Berry suppliers use a variety of tools to communicate with consumers, but in-store methods are among the top choices.

These communication methods are important because consumers are looking for more information than ever before.

“Communicating with consumers through retail circulars, websites and social media is very successful,” said Kyla Garnett, marketing manager for Naturipe Farms LLC, Estero, Fla.

“These tools can be cross-linked to one another and offer consumers valuable information about our berries,” she said. “Some want to know about where and how the berries were grown. Others want information on how to use them.

“Consumers want recipes and usage ideas. Now that strawberries are so easily accessible, the more usage ideas you can supply the better,” Garnett said in an e-mail.

It’s also important to communicate special ad prices and promotions.

Companies want to take advantage of consumer interest and fill the information void.

“A multi-tiered approach works best for communicating with consumers,” said Bruce Turner, director of sales and business development for berries at Curry & Co., Brooks, Ore.

He suggests consumers should see blueberries on ad or promotion at their favorite grocery store, prominently displayed every day at retail, while also hopefully finding berries in various food publications such as magazines and on cooking shows.

Even the packaging is a strong communication tool.

“Packaging is an excellent promotional vehicle. We can use it to tell grower stories, share usage ideas and convey the ‘fresh-picked’ nature of domestic berries throughout the summer,” Nolan Quinn, berry category director for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, said in an e-mail.

Others agree.

“The strongest promotional tools for selling berries are fresh product and good packaging. If there are ‘mouthwatering’ berries that look fresh and customers can see them, the berries will sell,” Julia Inestroza, marketing director for Gourmet Trading Co., Los Angeles, said in an e-mail.

Many berry customers are repeat buyers, and reaching the shoppers who didn’t plan on buying berries is often the challenge, Inestroza said.

“To get new customers, packaging and labels can be changed to draw in that demographic,” she said.

Watsonville, Calif.-based California Giant Berry Farms is also using packaging to communicate with consumers, this time through the use of quick-response codes.

“We provide the consumer with instant information while they are still in the produce department with our QR codes on the clamshell label,” director of marketing Cindy Jewell said.

These codes help the company interact with consumers, even while they are still in the store.

“Once scanned, consumers can download recipes while still shopping to gather additional ingredients for their recipe, or they can enter contests to win prizes when purchasing our berries,” Jewell said.

Strawberry grower-shipper Red Blossom Sales, Oxnard, Calif., uses e-mail as a way to communicate with consumers.

Michelle Deleissegues, director of marketing, said the company uses social media but still gets the most interaction from simple, well-designed packaging that offers consumers ways to connect with the company.

“During berry season we get e-mails, weekly, if not daily, from consumers who have our clamshells in hand. It always surprises me how many people read the packaging and write to us,” Deleissegues said.

“The nice thing about this type of connection is the communications from the consumers via e-mail are more thoughtful, lengthy and personal,” she said.

Deleissegues said the company responds to all e-mails, which provides a unique communication experience.