Pineapples, with their rough bark and leafy crowns, are familiar sights in produce departments, but not all consumers know how to choose one to take home.

A little bit of education could boost consumer confidence and improve pineapple sales.

“I’m not sure we’ve been successful with educating the consumer,” said Javier Gonzalez, vice president, ethnics/tropicals for Frontera Produce Ltd., Edinburg, Texas.

Many consumers rely on labels when choosing a pineapple, Gonzalez said. They look for brand names that they know and trust.

When choosing a pineapple, consumers should focus on freshness. The crowns and the bottoms need to appear fresh, and the pineapple should smell good, Gonzalez said.

Wilted crowns are a bad sign, as is a fruit that’s hard as a rock or completely green without any scent, Gonzalez said.

Consumers also look for good exterior color, even though that is not necessarily an indicator of ripeness. A ready-to-eat pineapple could be green, but because appearance is so important to U.S. consumers, pineapple with gold bark tend to sell better, Gonzalez said.

Although per-capita consumption has increased, there’s room for growth in the industry if retailers can properly educate consumers, said Alan Dolezal, vice president of sales, Coral Gables, Fla.-based Turbana Corp.

“We’re still at the top of the iceberg,” he said. “We need to educate consumers more about how to prepare a pineapple when they get it home, and educate them about how to know when it’s ready to eat.”

“The pineapple is a little intimidating,” Dolezal said. “It has that big hard shell on the outside and that ‘Christmas tree’ on the top of it.”

It’s important to remind consumers that shell color isn’t an indicator of taste.

Turbana’s Fyffe’s-brand pineapple tags remind consumers that the fruit is harvested at its optimal sweetness level, Dolezal said.