Flavor, increased media attention and health concerns are the three factors that Robert Schueller, public relations director for World Variety Produce, which markets specialty produce under the Melissa’s label, believes have driven inflation-proof growth for specialties.

“In fact, inflation for other perishable items at retail like meats, cheeses and processed food products, have helped demand for fruits and veggies rise around the board overall,” he said.

A personal-size pineapple — a joint project with Fresh Del Monte — is just one of the new products from Melissa’s this year.

The Del Monte Precious Honeyglow will ship year-round exclusively through Melissa’s.

Grown at specialty farms in Costa Rica, Honeyglow pineapples are left to mature and ripen naturally on the plant for a few extra days, resulting in an extra sweet taste and radiant golden hue.

It’s the most compact pineapple in Del Monte history, weighing between 1.5 and 2 pounds, about half the average weight of a full size traditional fresh pineapple.

When it comes to trends in specialty fruit, pineapple has been leading the way, Schueller said.

There are more varieties of the fruit than ever. Melissa’s alone sells South African Baby, Precious Honeyglow, Elephante Green Gold, Pinkglow, Honeyglow and now RubyGold pineapple varieties.

Several of those didn’t even exist in the market before 2019, he said.

Also new from Melissa’s this season are Fresh CocoPom Snax, a line of convenient, single-serve fruit cups that come packed with a spoon and are designed to capture the growing on-the-go snack market, Schueller said.

CocoPom Snax come in three flavor combinations:

  • Fresh Pom Snax: Tart pomegranate arils for a blast of juicy goodness 
  • Fresh Coco Snax: Creamy and tropical coconut chunks for a taste of paradise
  • Fresh CocoPom Snax: A refreshing mix of pomegranate arils and shredded coconut for a tantalizing texture experience.

Also new at Melissa’s, the company has announced a joint venture with Goldenberry Farms to be an official distributor of its top-selling Sweet Sugar Mango, a miniature variety with exceptional brix and thin, edible skin. The fragrant and sweet smell immediately attracts customers, he added, and the small size makes for a truly unique retail item.

Dragon fruit, meanwhile, has been the largest emerging tropical fruit in the category, and is Melissa’s fastest-growing product, Schueller said.New in the category for the company is a grab-and-go bag that features all three dragon fruit varieties — white, red and yellow — in one bag.

This article is an excerpt from the June 2024 issue of Supermarket Perimeter. You can read the entire Specialty Produce feature and more in the digital edition here.