(July 10) Offer your customers classic summertime fruits, such as blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Make sure your customers know that the Fourth of July offers easy, patriotic dessert opportunities for berries.

The Fourth of July weekend is the biggest weekend for blueberries at Broulims Supermarkets based in Rigby, Idaho, says Mike Eckman, corporate supervisor for produce at the two stores.

He says customers buy 50 cases of blueberries in half-pint containers during the weekend. The berries are promoted for 99 cents to $1.99 per half-pint.

Eckman also has the bakery make a white sheet cake with white frosting to include in the berry display. Strawberries and blueberries form the stripes and star portion of the American flag. The flag cake idea is used to spark a creative idea for customers, he says.

A variety of pack sizes would help retailers sell more blueberries, says Mike Klackle, senior vice president of sales for Global Berry Farms LLC, Naples, Fla.

“When fruit is abundant and at its lowest price point, in cost and price, an opportunity is often missed by retailers to offer a variety of packs. Retailers need to push the envelope and go beyond the pint and offer blueberries in quarts, 2-pound and even 5-pound containers,” he says. “Retailers who are in the wise offer two or three package choices and they truly maximize sales.”

Klackle adds that display size and location are critical to increased sales. “Blueberry sales are an impulse item. Eighty-five percent of blueberry purchases are made on impulse,” he says. “To be bought on impulse, they have to be seen.”

Quality and freshness are the most important keys to selling berries, says Big Top Market’s Jonker. He also suggests that using multiple pricing strategies and keeping all berries with your strawberry display will sell more.

Local growers provide much of Eckman’s raspberry supply. Those locally grown berries sell best. When supplies come from elsewhere, he promotes them if cost allows. “If the price is promotable, then we do that, but they’re such a tender item,” he says. He builds berry displays on a refrigerated table. He stocks half of the table with strawberry containers and the other half with blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. His customers buy more blackberries with each season, but they’re still not a strong category, he says.

Raspberries sell quite well at the first of the season at Doug & Mary’s Jack and Jill, Rolla, N.D., says Mary Kretschmar, president.. She says backyard gardens and local farms take some of her business away as berry bushes start to bear fruit. She continues to offer them in lower quantities, however. She typically prices a 6-ounce container of raspberries at $1.99. Blueberries sell for 99 cents per pint.

Berry health benefits are all the buzz at the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission, Corvallis, says Jan Schroeder, executive director. Classified as nutraceuticals, raspberries, blackberries and black raspberries provide medical or health benefits beyond basic nutrition. New research reveals the anti-oxidant and cancer-fighting abilities of berries, she adds.