Archive for 'Bananas'

New Zealand Banana Politics 2013 – First Installment

fyffe What might this be?  Well, it looks like a bunch of bananas.  It sure felt like a bunch of bananas and when I ate one, it certainly tasted like a banana.  Therefore it is a banana.  Case closed.

If only there wasn’t this little blue label on the fruit and that’s where matters  gets interesting.  You see, during the last ten years the New Zealand consumer has been used to seeing Bonita, Dole and Gracio branded bananas in supermarkets and greengrocers.  More recently, Fair Trade fruit has also made an appearance.

Bonita bananas, coming  from Ecuador, are imported by Turners & Growers, Dole bananas get here from the Philippines via a joint venture with MG Marketing and Countdown imports Gracio bananas, also from the Philippines.

Consumers care very little about banana politics.  As long as the fruit is the right colour, does not have bruises or stem rot and is priced reasonably, bananas will be purchased and consumed. Period. lrgscaleCoaster-Fyffes

Only – those of us who have a little inkling on how the produce industry works are left pondering how the Fyffe fruit got into the country in the first place; whether this was a once-off occasion or whether Fyffe will be a regular caller; how Luigi Noboa feels about this; what the impact on the wider banana pricing position will be as a result of someone deciding to mix matters up a little; whether overall volumes coming into the country were adjusted or whether the Fyffe fruit is ‘extra’….  You know, just a few minor considerations really….Yeah, right – to quote the Tui billboards.  Anyone interested in a historic perspective of the New Zealand banana business could do worse than following through here.

At the Food Show

I made the point of going to the Auckland Food Show; a number of my team did too – and the feedback I received was that it was a very enjoyable experience.

So here is some feedback from my experience:

Allan Fong: A Fresh Grower

Allan Fong, a grower of Chinese vegetables in Pukekohe, working to go to the consumer directly. A fantastic example of where the mindset needs to be.

 

Fairtrade banana stand

Fairtrade banana importers working to raise their profile. But I saw no sign of Dole, Bonita or Turners & Growers!

 

Mahana Red stand

Marketer and wholesaler Freshmax promoting the "only available at Countdown" apple variety Mahana Red.

 

Singing Chef

This singing chef was part of the entertainment provided by the Pams range from Foodstuffs.

So that was some of what I saw at the Food Show.  What did strike me was what I did not see…

The only bananas on show were Fairtrade ones – no sign of any other brand; now New Zealand is known for being fond of bananas. We certainly do not need to be introduced to the crop per se. But Dole Bananas also travel with some sort of ecolabel or other. And I have no idea what Bonita is up to in this area. But if I were a banana merchant, I would be inclined to keep an eye on the Fair Trade crowd. We are not talking about a passing fad here, but a serious effort to build a sustainable economy in third world countries that has human dignity as its centre piece, something ignored at peril.

Progressive were only there in the form of Freshmax promoting a Countdown exclusive product; while Foodstuffs were there in the guise of their house brand Pams (which they have been promoting heavily over the last several months).

Fresh produce was not there in force at all, unlike other years.  No mushrooms, for example, and no mainstream brands such as Wilcox potatoes.

What is going on here?  I would have thought that a large Food Show, in a major urban centre, would have marketers out in force.

Is the cost of having a stand at one of these events so expensive that the ROI simply isn’t there?

On the other hand, looking at the many niche exhibitors trying to carve out their place in the sun with the visiting crowds, are the known brands getting just a little complacent?

In a Chinese Supermarket – Part 1

CHINESE GROWN BANANAS

Bananas pop up the world over.

Pictured here are locally grown Chinese ones.  The red tape prevents the customer from splitting the hands to suit themselves, leaving those single bananas that are the bane of a Produce Manager’s life.

I did not wait around to see if the display would be replenished as it needed to be…

Behind the bananas was this “bin” of nectarines.

NECTARINES

I was intrigued to note the wide size range and the presence of foliage.  This suggests to me mechanical harvesting and minimal grading.

One could also say the condition of the leaves is an indicator of the freshness of the fruit.

LOCALLY GROWN APPLES

These apples are a local variety – quite a pretty pink en masse like this.

To put things into perspective, that price equates to 87 NZ cents!  Overall, I found China to be relatively cheap.

Moving on, the deli counters were right next door to the produce department:

TURTLES

FROGS

No, I have not strayed into the pet store.  Yes, those are live turtles and frogs.  How else could you be sure that they were fresh?

BULK PULSES AND SPICES

The bulk foods area was also near the produce and displayed in a fashion far more open than I am used to seeing back in NZ supermarkets.

Then I went past the shellfish counter…

SHELLFISH COUNTER

SMALL CRAYFISH

Being kept waiting at the checkout can be the last straw for a busy shopper.

CONTROLLING CHECKOUT WAITING TIMES

This blue line is the solution:  if there are customers behind this line of blue tiles, then more checkouts are opened – immediately.

Now, here is something I often say should still be seen in NZ supermarkets: the fresh produce weigh station.

PRODUCE WEIGH STATION

Discerning shoppers the world over choose their fruit by look and feel.

WHICH ONE FEELS THE BEST?

 This also could be any supermarket in the world:

NEAT AND TIDY PRODUCE DISPLAY

FRESH GREENS IN VOLUME

Signage varies around the store and I noticed that some nutritional information is starting to appear.

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!?

I Have Been Shopping (I)

I would envisage that there will be quite a few entries with that title this year….

Anyway, I went shopping today at my local supermarket and inevitably, came across the banana display. Inevitably?  Well, firstly, its difficult to avoid bananas even in the always colourful produce department and secondly, I am preconditioned to buy bananas whenever I end up in a supermarket.  $2.99 per kilo the ticket said. 


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