Specialist greengrocers have an important trump card: direct contact with consumers. It offers them the possibility of introducing consumers to new and special exotics.
Modern consumers are more adventurous and open to unfamiliar products. Besides, now that people are more concerned with healthy eating, exotics are no longer just for special occasions, and there is much on-line inspiration for recipes. Nature’s Pride also offers inspiring recipes at their EAT ME website and on their social media channels. They receive dozens of questions on-line about certain exotics every month. “We are talking about the truly unknown products, such as rambutan, mangosteen, granadilla and kiwano. People may have eaten a fruit during a holiday far away, and want to experience that flavour again, or they have a recipe that requires a special ingredient,” says Antoinette Hanemaaijer from Nature’s Pride.
A different exotic every month
The consumer questions are mostly about the preparation of special exotics, and where these can be bought in their area. “You cannot always find them in regular supermarkets. This creates opportunities for specialist greengrocers,” Antoinette says. “Retailers are in direct contact with consumers, and are therefore better positioned to personally give product information, thus turning specialist greengrocers into exotic specialists, allowing them to be more distinctive in turn.” Nature’s Pride, therefore, really sees opportunities for these special exotics at fresh produce specialist shops, and to that end, the company has developed the ‘exotic of the month subscription.’
The EAT ME ‘exotic of the month subscription’ is a ready-made experience concept, which wholesale partners of the exotic importer can offer to specialist greengrocers in the Netherlands. “Subscribers receive a tasting box each month, which holds the exotic of the month and accompanying marketing support,” Antoinette explains. “This tasting box is preferably presented prominently in the shop. With its accompanying EAT ME tasting plate, retailers can allow consumers to taste the exotic in order the convince them.” According to her, tasting the product is an important factor to get consumers to buy the exotic. “The greengrocers can personally decide on presentation and tasting of the product, but it could be decisive for its success.”
Informing and inspiring
The monthly tasting box contains promotional material including information about the product, such as health aspects, origin, taste characteristics and preparation possibilities, but also recipes and suggestions for posting on social media. “Consumers are sensitive to experience and interested in the story behind the fruits and vegetables. With this knowledge, the specialists can inform and inspire. Moreover, more and more exotics will become available to consumers in this manner, the consumers have increasing knowledge of the exotics and they are convinced to consume more new and surprising exotics.”
The contents of the tasting boxes is an assortment of surprising and special exotics combined with their seasons and availability. Many of the products have never before been offered by these specialist greengrocers. This also allows entrepreneurs to find out which products are a hit in the shop and which are not. Antoinette: “In consultation with wholesalers, the exotics of the month are decided based on availability and quality. Next year we hope to add new products, although a number of successful exotics will definitely return. Together with our wholesale partners we hope to create a network of EAT ME experts, and the specialists will play a key role in that.”
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