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Bell pepper growers are aiming directly for retail

How do you get the consumer to eat more bell peppers? Work Group Direct voor retail aims to answer that question. Besides ZON, three other bell pepper growers take part in that work group. What are the results of this approach?
Product Leadership in optima forma. That is how account manager Retail Jørgen Snoijink describes the initiative Direct voor retail, which the bell pepper growers of ZON, united in Pamosa, have been working on for a year. The purpose is to stimulate the turnover of the bell pepper by joining retail with the consumer’s bell pepper wishes.

Manager Sales Wouter Willems gives a short history of Direct voor retail: “Since a few years ago we have organized things differently for the bell pepper. Partly, there are different persons on the board and advisory commission, and individual growers have taken a number of initiatives. Those got a bit out of hand, and we jointly decided to streamline the developments. One of the things was the foundation of the work group Direct for retail, which consist of Antonie Teeuwen van Teegrow in Grashoek, Erik Gubbels of Kwekerij Gubbels Siberië in Maasbree and Frank Bakker of Kwekerij Hermans-Walter in Sevenum, all on account of Pamosa. For ZON fruit & vegetables Jørgen Snoijink, Linda Naus and I are on the work group. On average we meet every six weeks and we pick up initiatives to promote the sales of bell pepper in its entirety.” Jørgen Snoijink: “As the name of the work group already indicates, we achieve this by establish direct contacts with the retail to get our bell peppers onto their shelves. And where we are already present, we want to cooperate with retail to sell more bell peppers.”

Frank Bakker: “simply put, we want to get closer to retail, think with the retailer, and have a say in things such as packaging, new concepts, and the composition of the ‘traffic light’ and of fresh packages. There are plenty of cases we can join retail. When the consumer wants a small bell pepper at a given moment, it is useful to know this in an early stage, so we can anticipate it. That starts with a choice for varieties. In August or September the growers are picking the varieties for next year. It is also good for the retailer to know when the harvest peaks will be, so actions can be planned accordingly. We can predict those peaks six to seven weeks up front, time enough to prepare actions.”

The new approach has to bear fruit in a considerable time. Meanwhile the work group works on a number of concrete initiatives. For the first time this year orange bell peppers can be found on the shelves of Jan Linders. A customer analysis showed that the retailer from Nieuw-Bergen did not have an orange pepper in its assortment yet, while this sweet variety is gaining popularity. There is also a plan to test a bell pepper soup package on the German market, and an idea to develop store activities for bell peppers at a number of retailers.

New concepts
Jørgen Snoijink: ‘We are working, aided by a creative agency, to develop new concepts around the bell pepper. The idea is that you have bell pepper recipes all year round that match the season. Easter, Christmas, Halloween, ….. could be used as themes. Consumer panels have indicated that they want to do surprising new things with the bell pepper, but that they need to be inspired. In that way you solve a consumer problem. With a daily average of 127 grams, adults in the Netherlands eat much less vegetables than the recommended quantity of 250 grams a day. Remarkable is that the consumer is eating more and more bell peppers, which, according to Frans Bakker, is caused by its year round availability and because the consumer eats less and less traditionally. “Part of the consumers are not even aware how much bell peppers they are eating. Bell peppers can be found in vegetable packages for macaroni, and is as such not easily recognizable. Maybe it is wise if the work groups gives the impetus to a marketing campaign to make the consumer aware of this.”

On the up and up.
Nursery Hermans-Walter, which is co-owned by Frank, is specialized in orange bell pepper. In the Netherlands 100 hectare of this sweet bell pepper is grown, a relatively small product. Frank: "But the orange bell pepper is on the up and up. In the last two years the orange bell pepper has supplanted part of the green bell pepper from the flow pack. Apparently part of the consumers do not use the green bell pepper of the traffic light. At the same time, the supply of orange bell pepper is too small to standardly pack in a traffic light. Moreover, the production price of an orange bell pepper is higher than green bell pepper. This makes a traffic light with an orange bell pepper more expensive than a flow pack with red, yellow, and green."

Frank is happy to see that more and more growers are thinking about selling their product. "Luckily it has become an essential part of the process for many growers. The time of bringing the product to the auction and saying "all the best with it", has passed."

Wouter Willems is also thinking about the long term. "It makes sense to keep thinking about new breeds and varieties with properties such as taste, form, color. These are long term processes, because you have to involve seed breeders, growers, and, not unimportantly, the consumer. Sweet Palermo, the popular sweet pointed pepper, used to be unknown, but can now be found in all supermarkets. These are all examples of steps we take in the chain to sell more bell peppers. Cooperation is the basis for success".

Source: ZON Magazine
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