Retailers can profit by showcasing their specialty category, but it takes a bit of work and some imagination, marketing agents say.

Approaches can vary, all with successful results, said Jessie Capote, a partner in Miami-based J&C Tropicals.

“There’s the more traditional approach where you try to tie it to some holiday or special event, and some of the more savvy ones get into demographic studies and ask you to come up with products that cater to that particular store.”

Cross-merchandising also works, said Mary Ostlund, marketing director at Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals Inc.

“To know how a specialty item is used is to know how it can be successfully cross-merchandised,” she said.

One example she cited: ginger.

“It’s a great flavor enhancer, and signage gets consumers ‘in the know’ and sets up ginger as a great cross-promotable item with garlic and even fresh herbs,” she said.

Kumquats benefit from a “pop-in your mouth” snack promotion when grouped with cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, berries, grapes and other items, Ostlund said.

The most successful retailers advertise or do in-store promotions on a regular basis featuring an individual product or a group of products, said Karen Caplan, chief executive officer of Los Alamitos, Calif.-based Frieda’s Inc.

Consumers notice continuous promotions and respond well to the consistent visibility of specialty produce, Caplan said.

Integration with more mainstream items also can work wonders for specialty sales at retail, said James Macek, president of Coosemans Denver Inc.

“What we see is folks incorporating specialties into their traditional displays, maybe putting lychee nuts in the fruit section with the papaya and mangoes and merchandising them all as fruits and not necessarily segmenting them into a specialty area that may be off and out of the way,” he said.

Retailers can promote convenience to sell specialties, too, said Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development for Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Southern Specialties.

“We’re finding many retailers recognize the value and recognize that today’s consumer is looking for something that is flavorful, convenient and nutritional, that can be cooked in minutes, that provides them with an opportunity to make a purchase with no waste,” he said.

Visibility also counts, said Bruce Klein, marketing director with Seacaucus, N.J.-based Maurice A. Auerbach.

“They’re usually trying to highlight them, put them in a fairly prominent location in the stores,” he said.