January 21, 2015

Look to Oppy for brighter berries

VANCOUVER, BC – With new sources and new packaging, 2015 is underway in a big, bright way for The Oppenheimer Group’s berry category.

Right now, the full service produce marketer is shipping its berry range in Sesame Street branded eat brighter! packs. Sourcing from South America, Florida, Mexico and California, Oppy offers blackberry clamshells featuring Ernie, raspberries with Cookie Monster, blueberries showing Grover’s furry face, and strawberries as red and sweet as Elmo on the label.

“With their intense color, berries lend themselves perfectly to the eat brighter! concept,” said Jason Fung, director of category development for Oppy. “Displayed together, the packs present themselves as a Sesame Street ‘destination’ on the shelf. All of our currently seasonal berries are represented in the eye-catching packaging as part of this very important movement to increase fresh fruit and vegetable consumption among young families.”

At the same time, the marketer is increasing its strawberry offerings significantly this season, building scale and enabling it to deliver more comprehensive berry programs.

“Last year we shipped California strawberries for the first time, testing the waters and assuring we could create a program that accommodated our customers’ needs,” said Fung. “We have built on that ‘year one’ effort through relationships with growers in Coachella, Oxnard and Salinas, so now we can serve more of our customers with larger organic and conventional California strawberry programs.”

Fung notes that Oppy has entered full-fledged partnerships with high quality berry producers, investing financially and strategically planning the season to optimize the retailer and consumer experience―while also creating a strong fiscal position for the growers. The program began in December and extends through September.

While Oppy’s California strawberry program is growing, so are its berry offerings from other locales. The marketer is shipping Florida strawberries, and, along with the industry, is anticipating more volume in the weeks ahead.

Recently, the first Oppy raspberries hit the market, sourced through new relationships with proven Mexican berry growers. Meanwhile, its import blueberry program from Peru and Chile are enjoying excellent momentum, Fung said.

“Berries have become a very important facet of the produce department, delivering a high dollar share to the bottom line,” he said. “Because they are such a critical part of the mix, the quality and consistency has to be there 365 days a year.”

Oppy has been building its berry category expertise relative to consumer insights, merchandising, logistics and other key areas in tandem with Total Berry in the UK, a fellow operating company under the Total Produce umbrella and European berry leader.

“We are proud to say that the Oppy berry program has evolved to the point that retailers can comfortably rely on it for continuous supply of high quality fruit,” Fung summed up.

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