The pepper category — whether bulk green bells, colored bells, hot peppers or packaged miniature sweet peppers — continues on an upward sales trend, and with it comes growing pains.

“Retailers overall are doing a very good job merchandising peppers,” said Jeremy Lane, sales manager for Fresno, Calif.-based Baloian Farms Inc.

“But things are changing and changing fast, so it’s time to look at that merchandising schematic again. How do you incorporate this new packaged product with your bulk display and still have effective merchandising and sales?”

Loose green and colored bells are frequently displayed in one location, while packaged miniature peppers are displayed elsewhere in the department or in a refrigerator case.

As part of its homework, Baloian Farms photographed the pepper category in more than 1,300 California retailers’ produce departments. Each one was different and pretty good in its own right, he said.

“But they need a little tweaking,” Lane said.

This summer, Baloian Farms will work with its retail partners to run trials on some of the proposed changes in merchandising schematics for the pepper category.

The goal is to create synergy among the loose and packaged pepper products that will help drive additional sales, he said.

“We want to incorporate these products that are creating a pop in the category while enhancing the overall category,” Lane said.

“We want to keep the value-minded customer in the store as well as that person who wants that perfect pepper.”