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Yes, We Have Bananas…
In Modified Atmosphere Packaging Too!

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, November 9, 2006

The Pundit is based in South Florida, which coincidentally is where Chiquita, working with Publix, is running a test of its new Chiquita Fresh & Ready product. The slogan is: Bananas that stay perfectly fresh until you’re ready to eat them!

The product is a covered tray of three bananas, net weight 17.2 oz. It uses what the label calls Chiquita FreshPak technology, which utilizes the BreatheWay technology that it licenses from Apio. Here is how the label explains it:

Chiquita knows that Fresh Tastes Best. So we’ve come up with a natural way to keep bananas fresher longer. The secret is our patented FreshPak. It lets in just the right amount of air to slow the ripening process naturally. So now you can enjoy great tasting bananas that are Fresh & Ready when you are.

Chiquita is also doing a hang tag promotion built around the slogan: Now our bananas hang around longer!

The hang tag clarifies the concept with a graphic that shows that if consumers buy a traditional bunch of bananas on the weekend, the bananas typically are not ripe enough to eat Sunday. Then you eat one a day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. By Thursday, you are thinking the bananas are too ripe and considering tossing them out. By Friday and Saturday, according to this graphic, you have no bananas

In contrast, if on Sunday a consumer buys two three-banana packs of Chiquita Fresh & Readybananas, the consumer can open one and have perfect bananas on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, then open the other package and have bananas Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

It is a good concept and, doubtless, grows out of a lot of consumer research indicating that consumers would eat a lot more bananas if they could always have a ripe one available and, most likely, research that showed hesitation by some consumers to buy a whole bunch when they wind up throwing some away because they get too ripe.

The problem? PRICE. The local newspaper ran a story and put it this way:

But these bananas, which are best for two to three days after you open the package, don’t come cheap: Consumers will pay $1.59 per 17.2-ounce package or $2.98 for two packages. Regular bananas cost 49 cents a pound. That means consumers will pay roughly $1 more for the Chiquita Fresh & Ready bananas.

The consumer would pay less than 53 cents for 17.2 oz of bulk bananas and will pay $1.59 for the same amount of the trayed product in modified atmosphere packaging — or almost three times as much.

That premium, combined with the availability of bananas in many venues — convenience stores, discount stores, etc. — plus the fact that many people hit supermarkets, supercenters or warehouse club stores more than once a week means the product is, at best, a niche product.

One wonders how much of this price premium is necessitated by the packaging and the technology and how much is an attempt to enhance profits both by Chiquita and at retail?

Over the years, we’ve found that a lot of innovative new products that deliver real value to consumers die because they are priced in a way that doesn’t encourage consumers to try the product and integrate it into their lifestyles.

Hopefully that won’t happen here.

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