Apart from some recent rains that affected cherry volumes, weather conditions have been favorable for this season. “We expect to see volume increases across all commodities, even cherries,” said Karen Brux, managing director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, North America, based in San Carlos, CA.
The news is especially good because Chile saw large volume decreases in 2013-14 due to severe frosts in the country.
Looking specifically at the blueberry category, Brux noted that there is a huge increase over 2013-14. Exports of Chilean blueberries are expected to increase by 30 percent over last season, with volume exceeding 200 million pounds.
“Roughly 70 percent of exports come to North America, so that’s great news for our market,” added Brux.
She also noted a few promotion tips for retailers. Many shoppers still associate certain commodities, like blueberries or stone fruit, with a specific season, but Brux said, “Retailers should let their customers know that they can continue enjoying their favorite summer fruits during the winter, thanks to Chile.
“It goes without saying that retailers should communicate the key selling points of whatever product they’re carrying to their shoppers,” she continued. “For example, a large retail chain is flying in all of their Chilean stone fruit to offer what they believe are the freshest, best-tasting fruits for their shoppers. We’re helping them develop point-of-sale materials that communicates this. Another large retail chain brings in Muscat grapes from Chile and builds beautiful displays with information that highlights the unique taste of this grape.”
This also brings attention to the broader grape category. Brux said retailers see sales increases across all varieties. The CFFA works with them to develop targeted promotions.
“It’s additionally helpful to give consumers season-appropriate usage ideas and wellness messages,” Brux pointed out. “Consumers are familiar with summer usage ideas for items like cherries, blueberries, grapes and stone fruit, but what about during the cold winter months? We worked with one retail chain to introduce our roasted Brussels sprouts and Chilean grapes recipe via a video that was sent out to a database of more than 300,000 customers. The CFFA also has numerous usage ideas and corresponding images for everything from a cherry, wild rice and quinoa salad to cherry chocolate chip muffins to smoked salmon with blueberry compote or a festive green grape salsa for St. Patrick’s Day.”
For people committing to a healthier lifestyle in the New Year, the CFFA also has commodity-specific health messages available. It is, for example, currently working with a registered dietitian from a large retail chain in the Northeast to supply short sound bites on all of the Chilean fruits.