Originally printed in the March 2018 issue of Produce Business.
Tools can boost produce sales and inspire customers in the kitchen.
In 2016, U.S. retail sales of kitchen gadgets and tools amounted to approximately $1.19 billion, according to the Hamburg, Germany-based market research firm, Statista. With so many helpful produce gadgets on the market today, it’s next to impossible for consumers to be intimidated to cut a mango or create vegetable spirals. Steering clear of preparing a meal simply because it’s too time-consuming to chop, slice, dice, shred or peel is a silly excuse.
In addition to being innovative, it’s equally important for these tools to be convenient for consumers to use and for retailers to display in the produce department — since space is premium. Here is a compilation of SKUs that make the cut.
OXO, New York City
Gearing up for game-day recipes using fresh guacamole no longer involves tedious avocado pitting and slicing with this handy three-in-one tool. The plastic blade safely and effectively slices avocado skin. The pitter effortlessly removes the pit with a twist, and the fan blade slices and removes the flesh in strips—making ideal use for a sandwich or a head start to mashing for guacamole. Keep this tool on hand for in-store demos, or merchandise it with a sporting-event themed display.
Norpro, Everett, WA
Show customers how to be done with pecking out seeds from a homemade salad dressing or from a sizzling pan while cooking dinner. Norpro’s Citrus Reamer comes with a flexible, silicone cover that catches the seeds while pouring juice wherever it needs to go. The circular opening on the top of the handle is ideal for a gridwall panel display or situated in a basket with bountiful citrus.
LifetimeBrands/Farberware, Garden City, NY
These inventive Food Huggers provide the best usage of a storage container but don’t compromise the integrity of a full piece of produce. A five-pack of Food Huggers comes with a range of sizes in a rainbow of colors to match, or mix-match, with produce. The packaging is made from 100-percent recycled card stock and has a hook slot to hang from a display. The product is made with an FDA-grade silicone and is 100 percent BPA- and Phthalate-free.
Leaf Herb Stripper
MSC International, Montreal
Whether your produce department sells herbs in pots, clamshells or maybe straight from the root, the Leaf Herb Stripper is a great companion tool for a variety of herbs in a range of sizes. Simply place the stem of the herb into the appropriate-sized hole, and pull the herb straight through to cleanly de-leaf. It’s useful for garnishing or sprinkling over food during the cooking process.
OXO, New York City
One of the trickiest parts of cutting a mango is separating the seed from the flesh. This gadget does so with a simple press. The sharp, serrated stainless-steel blades cut through the mango, creating two halves. Depending on how ripe the mango is, you can then peel the skin off each half, or cut a grid using horizontal and vertical slices on each half to eat pieces in cubes. A practical merchandising tactic is to supply the splitter with fresh fruit in a wicker basket.
True Brands, Seattle
The New York City-based global, multi-platform media and entertainment company Mashable.com reported back in November that Amazon would sell electronic gadgets (such as tablets, e-readers and home assistants) at more than 100 Whole Foods Market locations during the 2017 holiday season. More gadgets from the online retailer and brick-and-mortar store also can be found in Produce — such as the True Brands’ Muddler. In addition to blending fruits for jam or marinades, the Muddler offers a sensory experience as home chefs experiment with herbs for drinks from lemonade to cocktails.
IMUSA, Doral, FL
With many retailers growing their ethnic and Hispanic produce offerings, it’s crucial to supply tools that help novice and seasoned home cooks prepare experimental recipes. This wood plantain slicer (or Mariquitera) is a natural fit for produce departments. By running the fruit over the blade, perfectly-sliced chips are carved and ideal for snacking or making tostones (fried plantain chips). The wooden board has a rope on the handle, so it can be hung on a fixture or placed vertically upright next to a display table with plantains.
Veggie Spiral Strips and Carrot Stripper
MSC International, Montreal
Think of these gadgets as giant pencil sharpeners for veggies. The hand-held tools fit on the end of a carrot, zucchini or cucumber. By twisting the rim, even-sized, spiral tendrils of vegetables flow to cook in a stir fry or as a simple side dish. The tools come in orange and green, allowing merchandisers to have fun with color blocking displays.
Taylor Precision Products, Seattle
The newly reimagined PalmZester from Chef’n collects zest in a compartment for less mess and features a built-in channel knife producing heavier shavings. No more scrapping or tapping zest from a run-of-the-mill zester. The product’s ergonomic design fits comfortably into the palm of any cook’s hand. The PalmZester makes it convenient to enjoy the essence of fruits atop any meal or dessert.