Coral Gables, Florida-based Del Monte Fresh Produce offers a virtually countless number of fresh-cut fruit products, says Dennis Christou, the company’s vice president of marketing.
Personal service, Christou says, helps set Del Monte Fresh Produce apart when it comes to fresh-cut.
“We tailor our fresh-cut programs to meet each customer’s specific needs,” he says. “Our unmatched North American fresh-cut facility and distribution center footprint allows us to customize these unique programs so that retailers can offer an array of weights, mixes, and cuts in their produce department.”
And with appropriate volumes, Del Monte Fresh Produce, he says, can create a successful fresh-cut program for any customer.
When it comes to trends, in the 21st century, portions are often smaller and meal occasions more frequent. Consumers, Christou says, expect healthy, high quality fresh-cut products that satisfy their snacking needs.
As with all trends, Del Monte Fresh Produce has the responsiveness to take care of any customer, he says.
“Customers turn to Del Monte Fresh Produce to help them satisfy their consumers. We often revisit and revise our fresh-cut programs to make sure that we are offering not only fresh-cut staples, but new, trending items as well.”
One of the more popular shifts in the category is the demand for fresh-cut exotic fruits, Christou says. As consumers develop more sophisticated tastes, and as trends and interest in new tropical fruits continue to grow, varieties such as mango, pineapple, papaya, and kiwi are essential to the produce department.
Offering fresh-cut products with dips is another necessity, he says. “It’s essential to get ahead of upcoming dip or dressing trends. Del Monte Fresh Produce continues to expand our fresh-cut range to meet the needs of this growing and demanding consumer segment.”
Pineapple leads the way
Del Monte’s Gold Extra Sweet pineapple is the company’s number one seller in the fresh-cut category. Del Monte offers various cuts, including cylinders, spears, chunks, wedges, and more, in a multitude of sizes and fruit medleys.
In addition, mango and watermelon are extremely popular, and Christou says the company is able to continue successful programs with both items despite difficulties due to seasonality.
Del Monte’s fresh-cut product line includes a wide variety of both fruit and vegetable choices for the on-the-go consumer, including fresh cut melons, apples, celery, and carrots to name a few.
The company’s vegetable-based product offering includes Mann’s Nourish Bowls, which are also an ideal product for those looking for a quick and wholesome heat-and-eat meal solution.
Del Monte has seen increasingly high demand for nutritious, ready-to-eat snacks across all channels, and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables have become the perfect solution to satisfying those needs.
“Fresh-cut fruit and vegetable party trays are a popular item in produce departments, and while most fresh-cut items are impulse buys, we see that party trays in particular tend to be more planned purchases in many retailers and club stores,” Christou says.
The company’s network of 24 facilities are strategically located throughout North America to allow fast, consistent distribution of its entire product line, Christou says, and Del Monte is able to provide an assortment of produce and dip options for the trays in the customer’s preferred weight.
“A successful fresh-cut program heavily relies on vertically integrated capabilities, like our 11 fresh cut operations facilities use, and it is the necessary first step to quality.”
In an age of increased use of store brands, legacy brands like Del Monte are still a winner for retailers when it comes to fresh-cut, Christou says.
“Consumers have grown to know and trust the Del Monte brand for its premium quality products. They add value to (retailers’) produce departments.”
On the technology front, when it comes to fresh-cut fruits, Del Monte continuously works to develop innovative packaging with consumer trends in mind, Christou says. For example, the company recently introduced film seal technology to select fresh-cut lines to extend shelf life, enhance product quality and deliver an improved consumer experience.
The Woodlands, Texas-based Country Fresh produces a wide variety of sliced-apple and other fresh-cut products for retailers nationwide.
Some Country Fresh containers have up to seven compartments, with mixes of cut pineapple, kiwifruit, mango, grapes, strawberries, cantaloupe, apples and other fruits.
Other packs feature combinations of fruits and non-fruit items. One popular option, for instance, includes green and red sliced apples, red grapes and cheese chunks.
Country Fresh also has partnered with Mexican seasoning company Tajin on “fruit seasoning” packs that feature fruits like mango and melons with Tajin seasoning.
Apple products include pouch bags and clamshell containers that feature both “Sweet Red,” Crisp Green” and “Sweet & Juicy Gala” apple slices in Country Fresh-branded packaging. Clamshell containers feature a resealable peel-back top for easy access and freshness.