When this season’s Northwest pear crop hits retail shelves, produce merchandisers will have a bevy of suggestions from growers and shippers and marketing specialists on how to keep the fruit moving.
“We have a mix of third-party data as well as proprietary data that we can share,” said Cristie Mather, communications director with the Milwaukie, Ore.-based Pear Bureau Northwest.
The bureau collects information on the effectiveness of merchandising tactics in all types of retail programs, Mather said.
The bureau has learned, for example, that pears are a “high-impulse purchase,” and its merchandising experts will offer tips on how to draw more attention to pear displays, where to place them and how to keep fruit moving, Mather said.
“The goal is to cause that impulse but also to increase the planned purchase,” Mather said.
Grower-shippers often follow the bureau’s lead, said Tim Evans, general sales manager with Chelan, Wash.-based Chelan Fresh Marketing.
“We made it a point to work with the pear bureau closely over the last couple of years in developing some programs with specific retailers through their field agents. That seems to be working very well,” he said.
Of course, individual shippers have their own ideas.
Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers Inc., said ripening programs are important to increasing sales at retail.
The type of advertising is secondary, as long as the word gets out, Pepperl said.
“You need to do it and you need to do it a minimum of once a month, and twice a month in September,” Pepperl said.
An extra push in September is necessary because pears are getting a jump on other items, Pepperl said.
“It’s a great time to really push the bartletts and the red crimson pears,” he said.
Some retailers cross-promote pears with items like wines and cheeses.
“We do that, and it has gone really well,” said David Garcia, chief executive officer of Hood River, Ore.-based Diamond Fruit Growers.
Another idea involves marketing two or more different varieties of pears together, Garcia said.
“What you start to see and hear more about within the pear categories is to bag different varieties in the same bag,” he said.
Pepperl said he likes that strategy.
Bags still aren’t a big seller in the pear category, said John Long, director of sales and operations for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos., which operates an office in Yakima, Wash.
“There’s a little bit of packaging with things like a Costco clamshell, but for the most part the pear business has been status quo, and most are sold in bulk.”