The latest quarterly earnings report for Del Monte Fresh Produce, Coral Gables, Florida, revealed a notable jump in fresh-cut fruit sales, a move that is indicative of the promise of this fresh convenience category. Del Monte reported third-quarter net sales of $145.3 million for fresh-cut fruit, an increase of 10% over the prior year period.
“Positive trends continue for Fresh Del Monte with a strong financial performance in the third quarter of 2019,” Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, who has served as Del Monte’s chairman and chief executive officer since 1996 and was instrumental in cementing the company’s role as one of the world’s pre-eminent fresh, fresh-cut and prepared fruit and vegetable producers and distributors, said on an earnings call.
Abu-Ghazaleh: “We are emphasizing value-added margin growth in all product lines, generating momentum with global partnerships, introducing trend-forward products, and are opening new state-of-the-art facilities in Mexico and Japan. Our retail store concept in the U.S. will be coming soon.”
Value-added fruit offers such promise for Del Monte that the company plans to open its first fresh food and beverage store in the United States, planned for Coral Gables, during first quarter 2020, Abu-Ghazaleh said on the call. Del Monte opened its first retail store in May 2015 at Abyat in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where the Del Monte Fresh Market features grab-and-go food and beverage options including smoothies and salads.
For the most successful retailers, produce (up 2.6% in 52-week sales ended Aug. 24, 2019) and deli (up 4.9%) departments provide the greatest contribution to total perishable sales, according to Nielsen. This debunks the long-standing belief that the meat department contributes the highest impact to the success of the perimeter of the store. It likely reflects, Nielsen reports, consumers’ changing wellness needs, as well as their growing demands for convenience. With more than three-fourths of deli sales coming from random weight items, top fresh retailers have honed a more authentic, ready-made feel.