Monday, January 10, 2011

Heat up sales with a tropical favorite: papaya

Excerpts from an article in the 1/11 Produce Retailer by Kristi Johnson

Drawing consumers in during the cold winter months and creating a colorful tropical display are tried and true methods for merchandising at retail.

"Play up papayas in the winter," says Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for Brooks Tropicals, LLC., Homestead, Fla. "The gorgeous red flesh on a Caribbean Red papaya will chase the winter blahs away."

Ostlund also recommends drawing attention to the naturally large fruit by opening up a new tropicals aisle or surrounding a salsa ingredient display.

Display papayas by stacking them with their bottom side out, making it easy for customers to select the one they want.

With the natural beauty of the papaya, Ostlund says cutting it open and displaying at retail is a great merchandising strategy. She says: "Let the consumer see the beautiful red flesh inside. Let them know they can eat it like a melon."

So how does a savvy retailer educate staff and consumers on ripening papayas and how to eat them? Ostlund says "showing consumers what they need to look for with ripening charts is some of the best education."

"Let the consumer know they can start eating a Caribbean Red papaya starting at about 50% color," she says. "Once the fruit is at this stage, you give it a little squeeze, and if it gives, it's ready to eat."

The future seems very bright for papayas today, Ostlund says. "Americans may have cut back on dining out, but they are determined not to let it spoil their dining fun." Latino and Asian restaurant cuisines are two that she sees most likely to be replicated at home as papayas continue to play a big role in ethnic eating.

Ostlund says that three potential markets exist for the retailer. For the highest sales, all three should be addressed: bulk, cut (halved and filmed with a spoon and lime slice) and blended (smoothies or batidos - a Latin American blended beverage made with milk, fruit and ice).

Bloggers note: the author left out the following sentence.
Addressing all three markets also reduces shrinkage. Ripening fruit is sold in bulk, ready-to-eat fruit is made ready-to-eat, and fruit passed its cosmetic prime is blended into a delicious beverage.

"Don't be surprised if a customer buys bulk and ready-to-eat in one visit," says Ostlund