All grower-shippers want their produce placed front and center in the produce department, where it is more visible to consumers and perhaps more often purchased.

It’s especially important, though, to place berries where they’ll get a lot of attention from shoppers.

“Retailers know that berries are a draw,” said Cindy Jewell, director of marketing for California Giant Inc., Watsonville.

“I know everybody fights for the endcap … but the bottom line is that berries that are merchandised well make such a vivid, eye-catching display that it absolutely commands an impulse purchase,” said Brian Bocock, vice president of product management for Naturipe Farms LLC, Naples, Fla.

Bocock said the months of July, August and September typically offer the lowest price points for berries, so displaying well-priced berries at the front of the produce section helps shoppers notice the good deals.

“You want that in the customer’s face right when they walk through the door,” he said.

“It’s a tremendous value as compared to what they see the rest of the year.”

Michelle Deleissegues, director of marketing, Red Blossom Farms, Santa Ynez, Calif., said strawberries should be at the front of the produce department to drive sales.

In addition to a good location, strawberries need a consistent location so retailers can capture planned as well as impulse purchases, she said. Deleissegues said highly visible berry displays can boost sales for all types of berries and all pack sizes.

Douglas Ronan, vice president of marketing for Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., Watsonville, said that increased in-store visibility for berries is a focus for Driscoll’s.

When retailers use primary and secondary displays effectively, consumers engage more with the category and make more purchases, he said.

“Berries are one of the highest impulse items,” Jewell said. “It’s all about how they look and smell.”

Ronan said demand for berries now runs 52 weeks of the year, which means there are opportunities to sell berries that didn’t exist in previous years when supplies were seasonal.

Raspberries, for example, are now a year-round product for Driscoll’s. There are times when the distribution is not as broad, but the brand is available 52 weeks a year, Ronan said.

“If you can bring (berries) into the marketplace with good quality and taste, you can do a lot in terms of success,” he said.

Berry patch
“Berries are a hot item,” Bocock said.

“Retailers really can separate themselves from their competition across the street by having a real vivid, exciting, fresh berry display.”

A vivid display with red strawberries and raspberries and the darker blueberries and blackberries draws consumers’ eyes immediately, Bocock said.

The best way to display summer berries at retail is to use a berry-patch theme, said Stephanie Hilton, spokeswoman for Beach Street Farms, Watsonville.

The availability of bush berries increases in the summer, and it benefits the entire category to have a large display featuring all types of berries.

Brian Malensky, vice president of domestic sales for Oregon Berry Packing Co., Hillsboro, said he also recommends giving plenty of retail space to berries. The more berries shoppers can see, the more excited they are to buy them, he said.

“We recommend building large, eye-catching displays,” said Bruce Turner, director of operations, Giumarra VBM International Berry LLC, Vernon, Calif.

“Merchandise more than one pack size in each variety, keep berries on refrigerated displays, and rotate and restock often to keep displays looking fresh and appealing,” he said.

Increasing in-store product availability and visibility by offering the full line of conventional and organic berries delivers the best sales results, Ronan said.

Deleissegues recommended promoting a 1-pound pack size along with a larger pack or advertising strawberries along with other berries to increase overall berry sales.

Hilton said retailers might put just one type of berry in a weekly circular, but display all types together. Because berries are often impulse buys, retailers will likely see a lift in sales for the whole category.

If a retailer has a secondary display or if it’s not using the front endcap or lead table for berries, Bocock said the berries should be displayed at eye level along the main route through the produce department.

The strategy is to attract the attention and impulse purchases of customers who are walking through on their way to other departments. Once they pick up berries, they are likely to notice other produce items, Bocock said.

Display contests
Red Blossom Farms sometimes sponsors display contests for its retailer customers. The contests were initiated by the retailers, who requested merchandising materials, prizes or judging assistance, Deleissegues said.

“It’s a fun way to partner with retailers, drive sales and a great opportunity for us to ‘strawberry educate’ produce department employees and consumers,” she said.

Some shippers no longer do display contests. Hilton said retailers now have more corporate-level dictates for building displays, which makes it difficult for shippers to get them to participate in display contests.

Instead, the company assists individual retailers in customized ways, with point-of-purchase materials or samplings, for example.

California Giant offers its retailer customers educational materials and support, as well as assistance with training store-level personnel, Jewell said. The company has a training video as well as consumer-oriented videos for produce departments.

Giumarra VBM assists some retailer customers with category management and works with its customers to promote berries nearly year round, Turner said. The company’s research shows that year-round promotions produce significant sales gains.

“Several retailers now find berries to be the number one or two category in gross sales,” Turner said.