Not everyone has the knife skills to quickly and efficiently serve pineapple.

Time-pressed consumers often don’t know what to do with a big, spiky looking piece of fruit with large, tough leaves sticking out of the top.

That’s where cored, chunked and speared fruit comes in.

“Fresh-cut pineapple is an important driving factor for the overall growth of the category,” said Drew Schwartzhoff, director of marketing for Eden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson Worldwide.

“There is a significant consumer population that is continuing to ask for more convenience and value-added products.”

Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte Fresh Produce NA said consumers rate convenience as an important factor when purchasing fresh produce.

“By making pineapples ready to eat, Del Monte has put the fruit in the hands of consumers who might not have picked up a pineapple due to convenience or preparation reason,” he said.

“Advances in cut-fruit technology have helped put pineapple in outlets not previously popular for perishables,” he said.

“We are seeing significant growth in channels that have been typically reluctant to sell perishable fresh products in the past and now want to offer their customers healthier, fresh products,” he said.

This includes not only grocery retail and wholesale stores, but also convenience stores, quick-service restaurants and vending machines.

“Also with an increase of fresh products in nontraditional channels, where consumers typically grab an item on the go, there has been an increased demand for single serve packaging and sizes, like our 2.7-ounce Del Monte Gold extra sweet pineapple spear.”

Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Fresh Fruit plans to launch an individually wrapped pineapple spear soon, said Bil Goldfield, communications manager.

“Fresh-cut has been a consistently growing segment,” he said.

“It can be an important segment for both consumers and retailers, but it needs to be affordable. In-store coring, chunks, rings and spears of whole pineapples are a great way to bring value and reduce shrink.”

Retailers who offer cored and whole fruit have an advantage over those who provide only whole fruit, said Alan Dolezal, vice president of marketing for Coral Gables-based Turbana Corp.

Whether or not a retailer charges a premium for cored fruit is up to them.

“It’s a competitive thing,” he said.

“For a long time you saw a lot of retailers get a premium for cored fruit and then you saw the same price as whole. It’s a lot of the keeping up with the Joneses.”