KANSAS CITY, MO. - To truly understand the power of branding in fresh produce, it’s important to first differentiate between true brands and shipper labels, said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte Fresh Produce.

“True brands have values and personalities that consumers can relate to,” he said. “Consumers will always see brands like Del Monte that are true to their values and build strong bonds and preference with their target consumers.”

Del Monte’s “true brand” proposition goes beyond just the high quality of the fruit the company produces, Christou said. With Del Monte, consumers know they’re also getting fruits and vegetables produced in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

“We are incredibly proud of our longstanding reputation of the Del Monte brand as a trusted symbol of product quality, freshness and reliability,” he said. “The strong brand values, combined with our steadfast commitment to quality, innovation and responsible business practices, allows us to consistently exceed expectations of our trade partners.”

More than a name and logo

Branding allows Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Food Co. to differentiate its fresh fruits and vegetables by directly leveraging its “unique, tangible consumer benefits,” said Bil Goldfield, the company’s director of corporate communications.


For Dole, branding, Goldfield said, is much more than just a name or logo. Dole equates its famous brand with a promise the company makes to its consumers.

“It’s about trust that we have earned and assurance for the consumer purchasing that product,” he said. “The Dole brand stands for 160+ years of excellence in freshness, transparency and responsibility, and for farm-fresh produce grown and delivered from around the world to customers at the peak of quality.”

Dole leverages the huge power of its famous brand in every way possible, Goldfield added. While best known for supplying bananas, pineapples, packaged salads and fresh-cut vegetables, Dole has become synonymous with nutrition and nutrition education, thanks to extensive efforts to educate America and the world on the importance and benefits of a plant-inclusive diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Industry-leading nutritional insights led by Dole’s own in-house dietitian and nutrition and health communications manager, Melanie Marcus, help in this effort, Goldfield said. Marcus publishes the Dole Nutrition News, which is read by hundreds of thousands of health advocates every month.

Dole also grows its brand power by constantly updating its social media pages, which are some of the industry’s most-followed. Featuring recipes, serving suggestions and healthy living tips, Dole’s Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter sites reach more than 1.7 million followers monthly.

Keeping brands strong

The Del Monte brand is as strong as it’s ever been, Christou said, but the company knows it can’t rest on its laurels if it wants to retain that consumer loyalty. Del Monte is constantly working on developing new products that meet changing lifestyles and emerging consumer needs, he said.

For instance, the company has noticed increasing demand for products that will help its consumers – especially millennials – introduce fresh fruits and vegetables to their lunches and afternoon snacks in tasty and convenient ways.

One product that meets that need is Del Monte’s Better Break line of convenience products, which offers consumers an easy snack or small meal packed with fresh veggies and 4 grams of protein per serving.

Del Monte keeps its brand strong by meeting ever-rising demand for fresh-cut product, Christou said.

Another way to flex those “true brand” muscles is to come up with products that outperform their categories, he added.

The melon category, for example, has been stagnant in recent years, but Del Monte’s branded MAG melons are a repeat-purchase machine. And one of the company’s stalwarts, the Del Monte Gold extra sweet pineapple, revolutionized the industry and continues to drive huge pineapple growth in the US.

Like Del Monte, Dole recognizes that a strong brand is a living, breathing, changing brand. Goldfield said the company places a continual emphasis on new product innovation, including a number of exciting new vegetable-based products launching in 2020. Dole, Goldfield added, is committed not only to broadening existing categories and to launching new ones, but to improved package designs and other ways to communicate its brand and product benefits to health-minded customers.

In 2018, the company launched a refreshed brand identity that included a new logo that better reflects the company’s commitment to freshness, transparency and responsibility.

The new mark, featuring the brand’s trademark surrounded by a green leaf shape, reinforces Dole’s brand position as a premium supplier of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables grown and delivered from around the world.

Branding goes pop-up

Valencia, California-based Sunkist Growers showed recently how powerful produce brands can get creative — and succeed — with their branding efforts.

Sunkist gave Canadians an escape from hibernation isolation by bringing a bright, garden-themed pop-up to Montreal in the middle of winter. 

Sunkist’s Citrus & Herb Garden offered a free, hands-on experience where more than 1,000 event attendees learned how to pair fresh California-grown Sunkist citrus with popular indoor herbs to encourage citrus consumption.

The event took place at Le Cathcart – a newly-opened foodie destination at the Place Ville Marie.  The indoor garden is rumored to be one of the largest Biergartens in Montreal and offers a communal and festive social atmosphere where people can come together to share real moments over culinary experiences.

The pop-up event featured two DIY stations, including a citrus herb garden beverage bar led by mixologist Rose Simard, and an upcycled citrus scrub station hosted by skincare and wellness expert Léa Bégin.  The event space also featured a living citrus and herb wall for “Instagrammable” moments.

Another Sunkist Citrus & Herb Garden pop-up is scheduled to tour Toronto this spring.