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Value-added fresh-cut fruit can bolster bottom line

The fresh-cut fruit category continues to expand dramatically every year, fueled by consumer demand. Today, consumers want fresh, nutritious and flavorful cut fruit packed for their safety and convenience.

Lifestyles are rapidly changing and the result has been a trend toward eating healthy. Retailers should take full advantage of this wellness progression by promoting more value-added fresh-cut fruit products.

Consumers have become more focused on the food they eat these days. Shoppers are knowledgeable and tend to have their health in mind when selecting their food choices at the grocery store. The produce department has become a focal point in fulfilling their healthy dietary needs.

The majority of consumers today want food that is wholesome, nutritious, nourishing and accommodating. This is a hurry-up world and most people do not have the time to become master cooks. They prefer anything that saves them time. This is where value-added fresh-cut fruit plays a very meaningful role.

With this explosive consumer demand for a wide variety of convenient options, retailers should take full advantage of expanding fresh-cut fruit sections. The freshness and colorful appeal will encourage shoppers to make repeat purchases on a regular basis. This is not only good for sales and profit, but also good for the store.

Here are five points to consider regarding value-added fresh-cut fruit:

  • Category growth: Fresh-cut fruit creates a domino effect as the demand by consumers for more healthy and convenience food items has prompted retailers to increase variety and display space. This has encouraged processors and suppliers to innovate and expand their product line. It opens doors of opportunities for further growth in consistent promoting of the category.

  • Ensure safety: There are two approaches to providing fresh-cut fruit products. One is to process it at the store level and the other is to purchase it from a reliable outside source. Cutting and processing fresh fruit in the back room of a retail store can have many risks. Without proper training, worker health control, suitable facility, sanitizing practices and safe approved equipment, there is a potential risk of food contamination due to pathogen growth. Purchasing product from a well-known established facility is highly recommended. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

  • Best quality: Consumers want good taste and that means they insist on the very best product. When it comes to specialized cut fruit, people realize that there is a lot of work that goes into it. Therefore, the cost to cover labor, packaging and other incidentals is most likely to be understood by customers and accepted in the retail prices.

    For example, consumers surely know what it takes to cut and core a pineapple at home. Quality is also in the processing.

  • Meticulous packaging: Licensed processors continue to improve innovative packaging by use of state-of-the-art technology. An attractive package is but one factor; consumers prefer labeling requirements, use of environmentally friendly material, ease of opening and resealability, and the ability to recyclable.

  • Creative merchandising: Nothing draws shoppers to product faster than visual eye-appeal. What can be more colorful in the produce department than fresh-cut fruit showing off the reds, yellows, oranges, blues and greens? Whole melons and pineapples are certainly not as attractive as the bright fresh interior meat of the fruit.

Since the cut fruit revolution is consistently advancing with many new items and packs, it may be time for retailers to consider expanding shelf space. Plan to reset the category into sections for grab-and-go lunch items, kid's snack-pack section, mixed fruit section and a party platter section.

This year, make a resolution to be more flexible in promoting what consumers want the most-healthy value added fresh-cut fruit.

The FreshXperts are produce industry consultants with specific areas of expertise who have banded together to offer clients a broad range of solutions in operations, marketing, sales, merchandising, governance, strategic planning, supply chain (including cool chain), e-commerce, social media, online and more.