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Sun Pacific's Howard Nager Talks Mighties® Brand Kiwifruit

Sun Pacific's Howard Nager Talks Mighties® Brand Kiwifruit

PASADENA, CA – With its friendly mascot, convenient pre-conditioned product, and grab-and-go clamshell packaging, Sun Pacific’s Mighties® brand kiwifruit have been gaining ground with consumers for years now—and data suggests they may be a driving force behind category growth for kiwifruit. Introduced in 2014, as an extension of Sun Pacific’s Ripe & Easy™ Kiwi program, Mighties have grown to become a big name in fresh food and a fitting sister-brand to the company’s ever-popular Cuties® mandarins.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Howard Nager, Vice President Marketing & Business Development for Sun Pacific, to find out more about these fuzzy, green little guys and the way the company’s branded offerings—Mighties in particular—are adding dollars to produce departments across the country.

Howard Nager,  Vice President Marketing & Business Development, Sun Pacific

“When a retailer looks at the kiwifruit category over the past year—the 52-week period beginning November of 2016 and ending in September of 2017—the category dollars are down approximately four percent. On the flip side of that, Mighties dollars are up almost 20 percent. So we’re out-performing a category as a whole,” Howard shared with me, noting that by several key store-level measures, Mighties is proving to be an impactful stand-alone brand, driving sales regardless of category performance.

Sun Pacific's Mighties® 2 lb clamshell

“In terms of dollars per store per week, the kiwifruit category was down nearly seven percent,” continued Howard. “But again, we see Mighties up about 18 percent. So, while we’re seeing some issues that can be improved upon with the category as a whole, we’re also beginning to see Mighties as having their own story and their own leg to stand on. In many ways, Mighties are keeping the category from declining further through the brand’s positive movement.”

With Mighties’ fanciful high-graphic branding, it’s convenient clamshell packaging—complete with disposable spife—and the value proposition of perfectly pre-condition, ready-to-eat ripe fruit, Howard tells me that the Mighties brand is ideally positioned to help retail partners get the most from the kiwifruit category.

Sun Pacific kiwifruit

“We’re finding that the two-pound clamshell is where the growth is and where retailers are having the most success,” said Howard. “When you look at the category as a whole, a little over 30 percent of all kiwifruit business is done in two-pound clamshells—and just under 20 percent in one-pound clamshells. So half of the category is being sold in either a two-pound or a one-pound clamshell.”

In order to best capitalize on the popularity of Mighties, Howard noted, retailers can implement a handful of merchandising best practices that have proven to drive sales of both kiwifruit and the items around them. While kiwifruit perform well with tropical fruit, Sun Pacific’s research suggests cross-merchandising Mighties with apples, bananas, grapes, and other fast-moving categories can drive impulse purchases and even improve sales throughout the produce aisle.

Sun Pacific's Mighties® billboard

“What we’ve also found out is that, when Mighties are displayed side-by-side with Cuties, we see a significant increase in dollar sales per store compared to when the two are displayed by themselves,” Howard explained. “We undertook a study with a West Coast retailer about a year ago, and it was determined at the time that there were triple-digit increases in both the volume and the dollars per store per week for Mighties when they were displayed next to Cuties. And Cuties sales were also positively impacted.”

Sun Pacific offers Mighties display shippers to stores free of charge, and the company recommends retailers create a waterfall displays or secondary displays with them in order to encourage impulse purchases. The holidays are an ideal time to promote kiwifruit, as a healthy, easy-to-eat snack alongside more decadent, festive meals. And Howard told me, the post-New Year’s period is a great time to push Mighties’ and clue consumers into the exceptional health benefits of kiwifruit.

In addition to popular two- and three-pound clamshells, Sun Pacific offers three-pound, four-pound, and bulk options to retailers. Sun Pacific will grow Mighties in California through May. In June, the company will transition production to Chile, and offer Chilean fruit in the same package with the same specs from June to the end of September—when the California season will begin again.

For more on opportunities and offerings in the produce aisle, stay up-to-date with AndNowUKnow.

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