Homegrown Organic Farms' Stephen Paul Discusses Exclusive Promotional Opportunities and Merchandising Strategies
PORTERVILLE, CA - Blueberries are among the many delicacies that adorn produce aisles in the summer. As Homegrown Organic Farms enters peak production in the Pacific Northwest, which will continue for the next five weeks, there is no better time to put blueberries front and center on the shelves. I recently got in touch with Homegrown Organic’s Blueberry Category Manager Stephen Paul to get an inside look at this sales-driving category.
“Now is the time for retailers to promote berries and promote with confidence, because you’re going to have good fruit,” Stephen tells me as we kick off our conversation. “We’ve definitely hit our stride in production, and having a diversified program allows our harvest to continue through September. The recent heat wave accelerated harvest for some varieties, so we’re currently experiencing some overlap, and quality is looking good.”
As Stephen tells me, many retailers put a pause on blueberry ads during the unexpected heat wave that hit the coast of the PNW, which has led to an abundance of berries in the market—and where there are blueberries, there are sure to be optimal retail opportunities.
“Get creative!” Stephen emphasizes. “Retailers have a great responsibility to keep consumers happy and thinking about fruit. In this world, it’s hard to avoid hearing about all of the negatives, but fruit is always good—it’s refreshing, it’s healthy, it’s delicious. I think promoting this fruit is a great way to bring positivity to the produce aisle.”
And, as retailers look for ways to follow Stephen’s advice and get creative with displays and cross-merchandising, the chance to increase blueberry sales and basket share lies in wait within the supplier’s stonefruit program.
“Blueberries present a great opportunity to cross-merchandise with stonefruit, because we’re in the peak of the stonefruit season,” Stephen adds. “Retailers can create unique and intriguing displays that play off of both berries and stonefruit to attract shoppers—I think it’s time to exercise that opportunity.”
For those looking to boost blueberry or stonefruit sales—or both—Homegrown Organic goes above and beyond to meet the needs of its retail partners, as the grower customizes its programs to support their growth strategies.
“We’re very open to our retail partners and what they want to do,” explains Stephen. “They know the market. They know their customer base. So, we stay open for them to strategize how to give their customers the best product and experience. No one knows the consumer better than the retailer; our job is to give them the resources and tools to succeed in the category.”
As we sign off our conversation, Stephen leaves me with one note: fruit c'est la vie. So, why not bring more life to the produce department with Homegrown’s mouthwatering blueberry and stonefruit varieties?