Following the roll-out of Chiquita’s first UK consumer promotion to raise awareness of its Class Extra bananas, as reported by this publication in October, Produce Business UK catches up with John Cockle, Chiquita’s director for Nordics, the UK and Ireland, to find out what the predominantly London-based campaign achieved
Were you pleased with the way the campaign went in terms of Chiquita brand visibility, increased awareness of the brand and response from wholesalers and independents?
John Cockle (JC): Yes, very pleased. We had lots of visitors to our breakfast events, which we held in collaboration with our wholesale partners, and we had really positive feedback. The taxi campaign, together with the activity around it, has undoubtedly increased our brand awareness in and around London. And after the boost given to the brand through our involvement with this year’s Minions movie, our long-term strategy of building brand awareness is progressing well.
Is there any indication that the campaign will help your customers to sell more Chiquita bananas? And have you met any pre-campaign sales uplift targets?
JC: We have definitely seen increased demand for Chiquita Premium bananas, not just through the campaign but also due to the support we have offered our wholesale customers. With regards to meeting sales targets I don’t want to give specific figures, but I would say we are very pleased with the campaign’s effect on sales. And having raised awareness of the Chiquita brand through our activity, I feel that can only be positive for the whole of the banana market.
Why did you decide to run Chiquita’s first consumer drive in the UK at this point in time? And why is London such an important market for Chiquita?
JC: We’ve been running the ‘Just Smile’ campaign – which was linked into our taxi promotion – across a number of other countries and believed that the time was right to include the UK in this activity. London is an important market because of its size and the number of consumers within the capital. The London area is served by four fruit and veg wholesale markets, all of which offer Chiquita Premium bananas to food channels like retail food shops, open air markets, restaurants, catering facilities and so on.
What is the point of difference for Chiquita bananas, and why?
JC: Chiquita bananas are Class Extra, which means they are they are grown to the highest quality standards. In addition, Chiquita ripens [its fruit] in the UK, with a dedicated team based at our Sheerness ripening facility, which provides a wide range of specifications in order to meet all of our customers’ requirements.
As bananas are a very generic product, unlike say apples or oranges, there aren’t different varieties on offer – so how does Chiquita think this sits with the notion of a branded banana, especially since there are so few brands in fresh produce in the UK and most trade is ‘own label’ in the supermarkets?
JC: Bananas can be differentiated by ‘class’ from Extra, to class 1 and class 2, depending upon the quality required. The Chiquita brand is not new and is in fact one of the most well-known consumer brands globally within the entire produce sector. It’s true that in the UK, retailer private label accounts for the majority of bagged banana SKUs [stock keeping units] – but when it comes to loose bananas there is a choice to be made in terms of quality. Chiquita offers consumers quality bananas with excellent taste through our ripening expertise, all underpinned by a respected and globally trusted brand.
What aspirations does Chiquita hold with the UK foodservice sector?
JC: We see the foodservice channel as an important sector and one that is growing. We can offer tailor-made solutions for foodservice customers, depending on their needs. As an example, Chiquita has a single-serve solution of nine individually bar-coded bananas packed into a counter display box. This has a unique technology which enables convenience retailers to hold stock for up to a week, safe in the knowledge that when the box is opened to be displayed the Chiquita bananas will be in perfect eating condition. We want to help this sector to grow with fresh produce and for our customers to be able to offer consumers an alternative to sugary, less healthy snacks.
Are other initiatives planned in London? And will you consider campaigns outside of the capital?
JC: We have some exciting ideas for further campaigns – but for now these are top secret!
Read the full article on Chiquita’s first UK promotional activity here.