Specialty Tomatoes Bring New Life to Produce

Promote the Many Ways to Use Tomatoes

There are almost as many ways to cross merchandise specialty tomatoes as there are ways to use them.

“The key to a successful cross merchandising program is to consider the occasion for which consumers are purchasing,” says Paul Mastronardi, president and CEO of Mastronardi Produce, Leamington, Ontario. “Salads make a great partner for specialty tomatoes, as do dips, dressings and oils. Cross merchandising is also a good way to educate and inspire consumers to consider purchasing fresh tomatoes during key holiday seasons.”

Some consumers see them as premium items, best paired with higher quality complements.

“Many chefs use the opportunity to create ‘protein, lettuce and tomato’ sandwiches using three very unique ingredients between specialty bread,” says Sam Maglio, president of Maglio Co., Milwaukee, WI. “Caprese salads are made more special by including uncommon varieties of tomatoes.”

The popularity of caprese salads makes it possible to combine sales of specialty tomatoes and high-quality fresh mozzarella.

“Salad combinations come to mind for cross merchandising, as well in the dairy with cheeses,” says Jim DiMenna, president of Red Sun Farms, Leamington, Ontario.

Because they are premium products, specialty tomatoes can be displayed in even more places than their more commonplace relatives.

“They need to sit in the same space as the existing tomato category. However, we have also seen success at retail when they are placed in the deli section or meal prep ready-to-eat options with natural partners like specialty cheese and deli meats for a charcuterie board,” says Chris Veillon, chief marketing officer at Pure Flavor, Leamington, ON.

Some shippers offer both ideas for cross merchandising as well as point of purchase materials.

“We provide retailers with ideal merchandising recommendations on shelf in order to give shoppers a seamless shopping experience,” says Lori Castillo, vice president of marketing for NatureSweet, San Antonio, TX. “Natural partners for us include avocados, onions and herbs—all perfect for creating easy, fresh recipes like salsa and guacamole.”