Central American Imports in 2017

Seasonal Opportunities

Tried-and-true merchandising techniques are a staple when it comes to selling more Central American produce on an everyday basis. In addition, retailers can boost sales by taking advantage of the availability and promoting around holiday themes.

“As winter availability of North American produce becomes scarce, large front-of-store displays of items such as Caribbean red papaya from Belize are a colorful way to light up dreary winter days. For other fruits, simply building a display and putting these tropical items in the spotlight helps to remind consumers of their availability, attractiveness and delicious taste,” says Peter Leifermann, director of sales for Brooks Tropicals, Homestead, FL.

End cap displays, coupons, sampling and cross-merchandising with complementary products are excellent methods to sell more produce, according to Dionysios Christou, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. “For the winter holidays, we suggest point-of-sale with holiday themes, fall and winter recipes and in-store demos with holiday meals that incorporate our fresh fruits and vegetables imported from Central America.”

It’s all about the meal, when it comes to promoting during the November and December holidays, according to Richard Stiles, director of produce for Redner’s Markets, a Reading, PA-chain with 44 markets and 13 quick shoppes in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware.

“Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are ideal promotional opportunities for French beans, Brussels sprouts, baby carrots, sugar snap peas and English peas,” says Robert Colescott, president and chief executive of PompanoBeach, FL-based Southern Specialties.

Additionally, “mangos are great for serving in desserts or beverages, and add a little variety to the Thanksgiving feast,” says Michael Warren, president of Central American Produce, Pompano Beach, FL, which imports seedless watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe from Honduras.

Fruit and vegetable platters are big sellers year-round, but especially so during the holidays and into the new year at Morton Williams Supermarkets. “We’ll buy snow peas and sugar snap peas in 10-pound boxes for use on the platters we make in-house. We’ll also offer smaller packs for customers who want to take them home for snacking or with meals. These are merchandised with other packaged vegetables near the bagged salads,” says Marc Goldman, produce director for the 13-store chain based in Bronx, NY.

Beyond the new year is an opportune time to promote mangos.

“Sliced mangos offer something different and delicious for everyone,” says Darrell Genthner, mango strategic sales executive for CarbAmericas, Fort Lauderdale, FL. “Additionally, mangos in mango salsa would add a sweet and spicy kick to Super Bowl parties. The options are endless for sweet mango treats on Valentine’s Day.”

Brooks Tropicals’ Leifermann says, “Chinese New Year is a big draw for Caribbean red papaya, as well as ginger and eddoe from Costa Rica.”