Archive for February, 2011

Sticker, Sticker On The Wall, Yesterday On Fruit & Today In The Mall

Once upon a time, there was a banana company.  After a chequered career using different names, the banana company settled on  a new name, which it has stuck with now for many decades.  That name is Chiquita. For many years Chiquita then focused on its banana business and eventually they thought, “wouldn’t it be nice if we put little Chiquita stickers on every banana leaving our plantations in Honduras, Panama and elsewhere?”  So they did.  Every once in a while they asked themselves the question again, which why one can now buy Chiquita pineapple, Chiquita mangoes and Chiquita ‘god knows what’, depending on which part of the world one lives.  In recent years Chiquita has been asking itself a few other questions which are captured as captions under the three photos that follow.  (Photos taken in Frankfurt, early February 2011)

How About We Take The Chiquita Sticker Into The High Street And Stick It On The Front Door?

What Else Could We Sell Our Adoring Public? Particularly In Winter?

And If We Provide Some Nice Bright Yellow Chairs, We Might Even Sell Some Bananas For Dessert!

The concept employed by Chiquita has a name – brand migration. It is often played at the corporate level and usually with mixed results. Companies engaged in playing the game usually end up learning a few hard lessons such as

  • Success depends on consumer perception and not on player desire
  • The rules of the game differ between supermarket aisles
  • PRODUCT marketing strategies and SERVICE marketing strategies are different beasts altogether

Nevertheless, success can be sweet.  I wonder how long the potato grower queue is who want to discuss supply agreements with Chiquita!?

Fruit Logistica – Odds & Sods

One knows the world is changing rapidly when an outfit like DHL decides to take one’s industry serious and not only exhibits but also goes as far as subbranding its acronym with something us peasants are meant to understand – like food services, for example.

They Used To Be Just Called "The Post Office"....

Someone on one of the Chinese stands decided that us Gweilos don’t recognise a peanut when it is still in its shell. He turned this concern into some action.

Better Safe Than Sorry

And our South African friends must have been out on the veldt playing with ox carts instead of attending their geography lessons at school.  Other than the southern tip of the South Island, New Zealand is missing from this South African map…

They Will Figure It Out When the All Blacks Domesticate The Springboks at the Rugby World Cup in October

Isn’t it amazing what we can see and find when we walk with eyes wide open through a crowd?

Fruit Logistica – Apples

One can’t fail to be impressed by Fruit Logistica.  The scale of this show is something else altogether.  If one really wants to understand the scope and depth of the fresh produce industry one needs to have at least once been pounding the exhibition floors here.  There is no way that this humble blog is able to cover the entire operation but we will get around to sharing some of the high lights with you – and in order to have some sense of order (that is the German coming out in me), we will discuss Fruit Logistica by theme.  Let’s start with apples. 

Does the world still eat apples?  Sure does.  Are there plenty of apples around?  Sure are.  Is there much innovation?  Well, that depends what one considers to be innovation.  There is little innovation in the “Me Tarzan, you Jane” approach practiced by the Austrian apple sellers brigade.

Boy Meets Girl, Girl Meets Boy, Apple Interferes

ENZA obviously needed to get into the act as well.  The size of their stand was truly impressive, difficult to miss. It was perfectly balanced as well.  Tony Gibbs and Jeff Wesley were entertaining at one end of the stand, whilst the young lady below was holding court at the other end.  Didn’t quite get to see the apples but what the heck…

ENZA Introduces Berlusconi Approach

Just as I was going to give up on finding some apple related innovation I hit the jackpot.  Innovation at last.  Apples To Go.  A picture speaks a thousand words, doesn’t it just?

That's Innovation - Single Apple Complete With Serviette

There were other pockets of apple innovation.  They are lurking amongst the print material I collected on my rounds, waiting to be sorted, scanned and reported upon eventually.  In the meantime, which of these three apple marketers would you consider investing in?

A Stroll Through Berlin (I)

Fruit Logistica beckoned and here I am.  IFPS, the International Federation for Produce Standards is running its first Global Forum tomorrow, so I will be quite busy for the next three days. I like to combat jet lag by walking through town on the first day, to get my bearings, to observe and to get the old mind working so that sleep will come when it is called for and not at eleven o’clock in the morning.  Herewith a photographic record of some of my finds.

Second Hand Christmas Tree Loitering On Street Corner

Berlin being the metropolis it is cannot afford for all of its citizens to live on quarter acre sections.  The majority of Berliners therefore dwell in multi- storage housing blocks, some with Hinterhoefe, some built in Kaiser time, some built by the Communists and some relatively new.  One common habit that can be found in the vicinity of all is that when Christmas is over, the now surplus to requirement tree gets unceremoniously dumped from the balcony down onto the pavement, in the vain hope that that the boys from  the municipal rubbish collection will come and clean up.  Clearly, there is a bit of a problem with that when the trees are still lying around the street in early February!

Still pondering what had happened to people who went walking through Berlin on, say, 6th January, the day Christmas trees traditionally get taken down thrown down the balconies and I come across this Turkish greengrocer.  Or is he? 

A Greengrocer Who Has Seen The Light

How does one describe a retailer who is open 24 hours, sells every hard liquor type one can possibly think of to anyone who has the right money, runs an Internet cafe and, last but not least, offers quite a respectable range of fruit and vegetables right outside the store around the clock?  Whatever one calls him, he is clearly a man who goes with the time.  Pity though that Mrs Greengrocer is still in the back of the store bagging the onions, that the granny is operating the till and the daughters are merchandising the store whilst the Pascha stands outside, smokes his cigar and is satisfied with his days work.

Where Have I Heard This Before?

A Prominent Image from the Zelger Produce Website

The latest edition of Fruchthandel arrived on my desk today.  As the magazine is aimed at the German fresh fruit & vegetable trade the articles it contains are inevitably written in the language of that country.  Quoting from an article is therefore not as simple as scanning in  a page but it involves engaging the grey matter some translation which is why I rarely get around to discuss what I read in that magazine. 

I need to make an exception though. My eye caught a column contributed by one Marcus Niebisch.  Mr Niebisch works for Munich based produce wholesaler Zelger GMbH, and  sits on the board of the Deutscher Fruchthandelsverband e. V., the German Produce Merchants Association (English website version available).  Here are a few gems from his column in which he discusses the state of the produce wholesale trade in his country vis-a-vis retailers and consumers. 

“A key driver of our activities should also be increased usage of fruit and vegetables…Have we lost our ability to influence the Point of Sale sector ( POS), that’s if we ever had it?…Is the structured grocery retail sector really the only bridge left between the producers for whom we provide services and the consumers who we try to tempt (with our products)? …How can we transform supplier confidence into consumer confidence?”    

I have taken the key statements made and lined them up.  The underlying message revolving around these sound bites is that the position the German wholesale produce trade finds itself in appears to be  not sustainable, so non-linear solutions are needed. 

Here is Niebisch again… 

“We need to generate our own POS (vehicle) which we are able to mould and care for ourselves.  At this Point of Service (not a typo, Niebisch specifically used ‘service’ here and not ‘sale’) we would be allowed to market the passion, which made us join the industry in the first place.  Maybe wholesalers should discover the collective “we”.  Are modern marketing options possibly our chance to connect again with the consumers and their, as well as our own, wishes?” 

If nothing else, here is confirmation yet again that the world has become a global village and what we might perceive to be a unique problem only applying to us is in fact generic and is present everywhere.