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Michaela Schneider:

“Consumer willing to pay more for bananas”

They’re all yellow, curved, and Cavendish; a banana is a banana, isn’t it? Yet banana giant Fyffes sees opportunities to provide the category with new zest. To that end, the company started a campaign with the slogan ‘Fyffes. Discover more.’ What are some of the things to be discovered in the banana category? Michaela Schneider, business development manager of Fyffes, takes us on a journey of discovery into the banana world.

“Bananas have become a commodity. That’s why we have to work together to make the category interesting again,” Michaela says. “All researches show that bananas are the fruit chosen most often by consumers.” She refers to a study carried out in the name of Fyffes that showed 58 per cent of participants indicated they consumed bananas multiple times per week. Yet Fyffes also concluded the category doesn’t effectively meet current consumer wishes.

Michaela Schneider, business development manager of Fyffes.

Diverse banana segment
“This doesn’t just mean A-brands or organic, we want to change the category itself,” Michaela continues. “Look at the tomato assortment, for example, and the things that have all changed in that in recent years, the different varieties and how they now anticipate various snack moments. There are more than 500 different banana varieties, but only one of them is marketed.” Than one variety marketed on a large scale in the Western world is Cavendish. “We have to make other varieties suitable for marketing, that is a challenge.”

Many banana varieties are dealing with limiting factors in production or logistics, so that these couldn’t always become as successful as Cavendish. “Introducing new varieties takes time, it’s a long journey,” Michaela says. “A plantain, for instance, is a completely different banana that we could add to the category. But we have to properly inform consumers on how to use the product. We have to do our homework, and work together with the retailers.”

Loose banana more profitable
“The snack segment is also being looked at. “Who consumes a banana at which moment?” She formulates the main question. “Consumers are willing to pay more when you offer a banana at the right moment. To target snack moments this is as well a concept to build up for supermarkets. It is about developing the right product for the right moment - of course with the right packaging. Packaging is as well a very important aspect to engage with shoppers and we have to develop sustainable solutions.” If you calculate the price of a loose banana into a kilo price, you’d see a better price is achieved than in most supermarkets.

To that end, a more specific target audience should be chosen in commercials, for example, men , women or children. “There are many ways in which to grow the category.” The story behind bananas should be better communicated. The major platform to engage with different target groups of consumers is at point of sale but social media are useful as well. That way, Fyffes thinks it can increase support for the category. “We have to make consumers aware of how much effort it takes to bring this wonderful fruit from the tropics to Europe, so that consumers can think about this, and learn from this. Many steps in the process continue to be jobs for people, these can’t be replaced by machines.”

Children’s banana or baby banana
The cooperation with retail is essential for that. In the end, they have to implement the changes on the shop floor. “Supermarket chains are very interested, but we don’t want to roll out this new concept in steps that are too big. We first have to develop and test it.” Tests have been conducted in four European countries. Fyffes is looking for partners in to work on this project. “We want to offer these additional bananas besides current products to improve the category.” Organic and fair trade bananas can also broaden the category.

“It differs per country what the banana category looks like,” Michaela knows. This can be exemplified by the difference between Germany and the Netherlands. In Germany, the baby banana is no longer a niche product. In the Netherlands, this small banana is practically unknown. On the other hand, the children’s banana can be found on many Dutch shelves, but this small Cavendish is unknown in German supermarkets.

For more information:
Michaela Schneider
T: +31 (0)10 244 5320

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