Getting on board

Working with commodity boards can go a long way toward helping retailers boost sales. 

Produce sales are strong in the spring and summer, and not just because consumers are thinking about fresh fruits and vegetables. Commodity boards help retailers showcase the season’s offerings and encourage shoppers to buy more fruits and vegetables. Many of the boards offer sales programs ranging from contests to social media to online promotions to draw shoppers to the stores.

This year, several boards have developed multifaceted promotions to make sure fresh fruits and vegetables get all the attention—and sales—they deserve. Here is a closer look at what some boards are doing:

California Avocado Commission
California-Avocado-Beauty-ShotThe California Avocado Commission (CAC) coordinates promotions from spring through fall, so that retailers can boost sales for seasonal events beyond Cinco de Mayo. “We look across the timing of our season and we try to give retailers themes and opportunities to promote California avocados,” says Jan Delyser, vice president of merchandising.

California avocados had a good crop this year—515 million pounds—compared to last year’s 460 million pounds. Hass avocados, the dominant variety consumed in the U.S., accounted for 500  million pounds of the total.

The Irivne, Calif.-based CAC runs television ads on America’s Test Kitchen and social media, which Delyser says plants the seeds for conversation. “We try to make folks aware of what California avocados are,” she says. “We are encouraging them that next time they are in the retailer, don’t forget to look for the label and insist on California grown.” www.californiaavocado.com

California Date Commission
The California Date Commission focuses its promotional efforts on health-related messaging. California dates received the Heart-Check Mark from the American Heart Association (AHA) several years ago, and earlier this year the Indio, Calif.-based commission partnered with the local Coachella Valley chapter of the AHA to promote the Go Red for Women campaign for the second year in a row. In mid-January the partnership presented an Open Your Heart evening event for AHA donors and for area healthcare providers.

“By sponsoring a kick-off event such as Open Your Heart to the Go Red for Women campaign, we show that California Dates can be included in any recipe as a food ingredient or just simply eating them in their whole, natural form,” says Lorrie Cooper, manager of the California Date Administrative Committee. The commission works with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) and the AHA to get the word out about the benefits of including dates in the daily diet. www.DatesAreGreat.com

Chilean Fresh Fruit Association
The Chilean Fresh Fruit Association works with the Chilean government and with local embassies and other entities to promote the Fruits from Chile brand. The fruits include blueberries, cherries, citrus, Hass avocados and kiwifruit, among others. The U.S. and Canada buy about 35% of the fruit that Chile exports.

Fruits from Chile offer point-of-sale materials and tips on how to merchandise the fruits. Among the suggestions: use waterfall displays to highlight the colors of the various fruits, use “fresh from the harvest” baskets and props and provide ripening bags to encourage shoppers to buy in higher volumes. www.fruitsfromchile.com

Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee
Officials for the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee (USA Onions) say April wraps up a successful onion season. The new season will begin in August, and the promotions will continue a platform that USA Onions began last year with Weber Grills. Weber provided grills and accessories for in-store displays next to the onions. “USA Onions was happy with the Weber promotion last year,” says Sherise Jones, marketing director for Parma, Idaho-based USA Onions. “The in-store grilling POS, and the fun variety of Facebook contests and grilling buzz engaged buyers and end users, which is part of the reason we are working with Weber in the coming 2013-2014 season.” The Facebook contests included, Name the Little Red Onion Girl, and the winner won a Weber Time to Grill cookbook. www.usaonions.com.

Idaho Potato Commission
Last year, to highlight its 75th anniversary, the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) launched its Famous Idaho Potato Tour. The 72-foot Famous Idaho Potato truck drove to cities nationwide, stopping at grocery store parking lots and at special events including the Idaho Potato Bowl.

Seth Pemsler, vice president retail/international for the Eagle, Idaho-based IPC, says the tour was successful. “It created awareness and excitement for the Idaho Potato brand,” says Pemsler. “We visited and spent time in more than 100 outlets.”  For this year’s tour, which begins mid-April, the truck will stop at wholesalers’ shows, visiting retail representatives there.

The IPC promotes potatoes grown in Idaho and provides the trademarked Grown in Idaho seal. The commission’s other major promotion is the Potato Lover’s Month display contest. Pemsler says the contest had 2,500 entries last year, and he expects more this year for the 22nd annual contest. www.idahopotato.com

National Watermelon Promotion Board
The National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB) has gone global with its display contest. “We were calling it the national display contest, but then the Canadians said they buy a lot of watermelons, so it is international now,” says Gordon Hunt, director of marketing for the Orlando, Fla.-based organization.

Last year’s winning display was from a retailer in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. The NWPB also presented a prize for the biggest display, 200 bins, to a retailer in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Prizes included cash and a trip to the National Watermelon Association’s (NWA) convention in San Antonio, Texas. This year’s contest will run in July, which is National Watermelon Month and the highest sales month for watermelons. www.watermelon.org

New York Apple Association
The New York Apple Association promotes New York Apple Country apples. The Fishers, N.Y.-based association provides point-of-sale materials such as NY Apple Country ad slicks, Pride of NY logos and educational materials including the apple usage chart, the history of New York apples poster and recipe cards for specific varieties.

The non-profit trade association represents more than 600 growers in the state, which produce about 29.5 million bushels of apples a year. The association also provides consumer information ranging from why apples are waxed and nutritional information, including the positive results of university studies related to apples and cancer prevention.
www.nyapplecountry.com

Pear Bureau Northwest
Pear Bureau Northwest (USA Pears) promotes pears from Oregon and Washington. The spring promotion features three pear varieties: green Anjou, red Anjou and Bosc. The idea is to maintain the sales momentum that pears get in the fall and winter, and to teach people about the fruit. “We educate consumers about pear ripening and versatility,” says Cristie Mather, director of communications for the Milwaukie, Ore.-based bureau. “We tell them to check the neck for ripeness.”

Pears_in_the_KitchenMather adds that this is second year of a three-year advertising campaign. After last year’s campaign the bureau conducted a consumer survey, and 67% of respondents said they recalled the ads about judging pears’ ripeness. In fact, Mather says, Pear Bureau Northwest research indicates that retailers that display ripe pears enjoy a sales boost of 19.5% compared to non-ripe pears.

The bureau’s regional marketing managers also work with retailers to develop customized programs. Some programs involve display contests and produce managers can win gift certificates to the store or an iPod or iPad. www.usapears.org or www.pearpanache.com

Vidalia Onion Committee
FOS-Final-PosterThe Vidalia Onion Committee (VOC) offers the Sweet Vidalia Flavors of Summer promotion. “It’s all about outdoor cooking and entertaining,” says Wendy Brannen, executive director of the Vidalia, Ga.-based VOC. “It really speaks to the seasonality of Vidalia sweet onions.” The season is late spring and summer, and the promotion runs from May 1 to August 15.

The VOC is partnering with Johnsonville Italian Sausage, Avocados from Mexico, the National Mango Board, the National Watermelon Promotion Board, Stemilt Fruit and Gourmet Garden herbs and spices. The program includes on-pack messaging, quick-response (QR) codes, a recipe contest for consumers, digital coupons and outreach to food bloggers. There is also a retail display contest, which can include bulk and bagged onions, bins and half bins, point-of-sale materials from the VOC and recipes that include other promotional partners. The winner of the display contest will receive an iPad mini; secondary winners win grill baskets with accessories.  www.vidaliaonion.org  

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