Larger packaging for blueberries a must for Chilean exporters, Naturipe Farms CEO says
Due to the increased volume expected during the 2010-11 blueberry season, Chile’s exporters are better off starting with pint-sized packaging, according to Dwight Ferguson, CEO of Naturipe Farms.
Ferguson believes that even in the lead up to peak harvest volumes –expected this season from week 52 through week 2– a full pint (473 grams aprox.) format for blueberries will help keep the market moving in retail outlets in the US.
“Something I recommend is to move quickly to new pack styles, especially pints” Ferguson told FreshFruitPortal.com
Ferguson, who was recognized at the PMA’s Fresh Summit 2010 as one of the 25 most influential leaders in the produce industry, visited Chile with Naturipe’s entire top management team to meet with some Hortifrut growers, one of the largest exporters of berries in the country and trading partner of Naturipe Farms.
Ferguson said that after seeing the high volumes reported by the Chilean blueberry committee, it is imperative that growers and exporters plan their strategy effectively, especially in terms of package sizes.
Traditionally the fruit will start off in smaller pack formats and only move to a full when export volumes reach their peak levels.
Furthermore, Ferguson said that during the peak of production, growers should also consider dedicating their lowest quality production to frozen or industrial use to avoid overrunning the US market.
The executive said that Chilean exporters can learn a lesson from the lack of coordination in sending off Argentine blueberries. Shipments in Argentina hit unexpectedly high volumes early in the season and were not matched by promotion efforts among receiving retailers, causing a price drop.
“In addition to the usual requirements for quality, flavor and freshness, growers should be emphasizing proper strategy first and foremost. Planning is critically important as we head into the new season,” Ferguson added.
TIME FOR A CHANGE
For the 2010-11 season Naturipe Farms decided that it was time for a change in their labeling and has unveiled a new package for its berries. The new package features a banner with colors specific to each berry.
Ferguson said that the initial response from consumers has been good. The company did a set of market studies to develop a label that catches the consumer’s eye.
Naturipe Farms is the North American leader in blueberry sales and their yearlong service capabilities are in high demand with retailers, the executive said. Berries are now the No. 1 selling fruit category at retail, so partnering with the right blueberry supplier is critical for success.
The executive also believes that retail promotions after the Christmas season will help encourage blueberry consumption in the U.S. He added that the blueberry market, both for seasonal and counterseasonal fruit, is still underdeveloped and the industry can do more to encourage consumption.
Naturipe Farms is headquartered in Naples, Fla., and focuses specifically on berries, both conventional and organic.