(April 30) White-flesh tree fruit offers a sweet flavor to any summer dish, salad or dessert. While these fruits are available year-round, they are available in quantity only during the summer when production is at its peak.

Most fruit is displayed while still firm and needs two to three days to ripen. Offer consumers brown paper ripening bags as point-of-sale materials that they can take home. Inform customers to place the fruit in a loosely closed paper bag and keep at room temperature until the fruit omits a fragrant scent and yields to gentle pressure.

Mark View, assistant produce manager at Wal-Mart Supercenter, St. Joseph, Mo., one of the more than 1,000 Supercenters nationwide and part of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark., says that Supercenters use their ripening bags to offer customers preparation information.

“We do provide a ripening bag that has instructions on how to peel and prepare (produce),” he says.

RIPE, UNRIPE TOGETHER

Display ripe fruit along with the immature fruit so customers can buy produce for immediate and later consumption. Use the sweet aroma of ripe fruit to draw consumers into the produce section. Display ripe fruit at the front of the produce section and don’t stack it more than two layers deep to avoid bruising. Bulk displays attract buyers during the peak season. Use larger 3- and 5-pound units to draw attention.

Dave Parker, director of merchandising for the California Tree Fruit Agreement, Reedley, says the association has trademarked its white-flesh peaches and nectarines under the name Summerwhite and offerspoint-of-sale materials like banners and signs that feature the Summerwhite name. Parker suggests merchandising white-flesh tree fruit together.

View says his Wal-Mart Supercenter carries five varieties of peaches,including white, donut and yellow, three varieties of nectarines and about eight types of plums, like black, purple, green and Italian.

The increasing sales of the donut peach surprises View because that variety is more expensive than other varieties, but he thinks that the peach’s good flavor entices consumers.

“Once you’ve tried them, you’re pretty much hooked on them,” he says.

PRICING

View generally sells white-flesh tree fruit for 98 cents per pound in-season and goes through about 30 cases of peaches, 20 cases of nectarines and 15 cases of plums a week. While on sale, he sells the white-flesh tree fruit for 68 cents per pound and goes through about 60 cases of peaches and 50 cases of nectarines and 40 cases of plums.

Tom Mitchell, produce manager at Key Market, Lake Station, Ind., one of three stores in the Highland, Ind.-based chain, says the store carries four varieties of the white-flesh tree fruit. He says that Red Haven peaches, Laredo plums and Glow Haven nectarines are the top-selling varieties.

Key Market offers the fruit in bulk and has a promotion when it uses bigger displays and advertisesthe fruit, Mitchell says.

The tree fruit’s price varies with the market price, but Mitchell says that anything under $1 a pound is a special price for the fruit.

Parker says white-flesh tree fruit sales are on the rise.

“There is a major sale opportunity with Summerwhite varieties since both have increased in production over the past six to seven years and they constitute approximately 20 percent of their respective crop,” he says.

Suggest that consumers use white-flesh tree fruit in bread recipes, blended drinks, as toppings on waffles, in pies, cobbler, jams and preserves.