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The Dole Sunshine Company provides consumers with healthy, affordable, and tasty fruit snacks in convenient formats.

It is on a journey to evolve from a packaged fruit company to a nutrition and wellbeing brand and currently provides UK consumers with an entire product range containing 100% real fruit, found in all major multiple grocers.

Andrew Bradshaw, UK Sales Director at Dole Sunshine Company, tells Grocery Trader about the category, latest NPD, and why packaged fruit is a great option for consumers during this cost of living crisis.

How is the packaged fruit snacks market performing? Is the market in growth? What is driving the growth?

There’s no hiding from the fact that the market is quite tough right now due to a variety of factors, which is why we have recently undergone a rationalisation and consolidation of our range to set us up for future growth. So although over the last year our range is in slight sales decline, albeit by a lot less than the total market, more encouragingly we are back in growth of nearly 4% over the last twelve weeks (IRI), which gives us plenty of reasons to feel positive for the future.

How are Dole’s products performing?

We are the UK category leader in packaged fruit snacks, with our entire product range containing 100% real fruit, with no added sugar in any of its fruit in juice range. Our latest data shows Dole Sunshine Company has a 58% value share of the fruit in juice cups category (IRI) and an 80% value share of the fruit in jelly cups category (IRI), driven by distribution and increase in rate of sale.

What are Dole’s best-selling products?

Our best-selling products are the Pineapple, Mandarin and Peach variants of our fruit in juice range, along with the Mandarin and orange jelly and Peach in strawberry jelly variants, all of which can be found in most major grocery retailers.

What are the consumption occasions for packaged fruit?

Whenever you want it, it’s fruit! I think that versatility is probably one of the most appealing things for consumers, because not only are packaged fruit snacks healthy, but they can be consumed at breakfast, as a mid-morning snack, as a dessert, at home, in the office, at the gym, on the train or literally where and whenever you like.

Do you have any data on how health concerns are driving consumers towards fruit?

Unsurprisingly the pandemic has made many people more health conscious and encouraged healthier diets as a higher priority, so it’s no surprise that within fresh groceries, the winning products are fresh fruit *(46%) and fresh vegetables *(39%). Consumers are spending more on fresh fruit and vegetables, because they’re buying these products more frequently and in larger pack sizes.

Is the cost-of-living crisis and concerns over waste also prompting shoppers to choose packaged fruit?

Most definitely. Consumers are changing their shopping behaviours and becoming increasingly conscious of product value for money, incorporating quality, waste, convenience and choice, which is where ambient products can increasingly have a role to play. Shoppers understand that ambient goods not only offer good value and have longer shelf lives, but in the case of our Dole packaged fruit range, can also be one of your five-a-day and a healthy part of their overall diet. A recent survey on attitudes to healthy eating revealed that **32% of people admit that money concerns cause them to eat less healthily. This really highlights the importance of supermarkets and brands who are committed to supporting healthier choices for their customers, and specifically helping people to eat healthily on a budget.

What is Dole doing to be a more sustainable supplier?

At Dole we envisage a world where good nutrition and wellness fuels prosperity for both people and the planet. The result of this vision is ‘the Dole promise’ which is a bold mission to better our world today and for future generations to come, comprising of six promises, each one interconnected and of equal importance. These include contributing to good nutrition for one billion people around the world by 2025, having zero fruit loss, processed sugar and fossil-fuel based plastic packaging in our operations by 2025, as well as reaching net-zero carbon emissions in our operations by 2030.

Do you have any NPD to talk about at the moment?

We’ve recently announced two new additions to our Fruit in Juice range. The delicious new flavours of Mango in juice and Pear in juice have been introduced to complement the existing range of Tropical Fruit, Peach, Pineapple, Mandarins and Mixed Fruits in juice cups. Mango in juice and Pear in juice are now available to the grocery and convenience channels in convenient packs of four, meaning the great taste of these sun-ripened fruits can now be consumed either on the go or kept in the fridge or cupboard for a later date. Like the other Dole fruit in juice variants, both new products contain 100% fruit in juice with zero added sugar, have less than 100 calories per serving, and come in a handy four pack with an RRP of £2.19. Although not new products, we are also focussing on driving distribution of our 198g format of Tropical Gold Pineapple and Tropical fruit in juice cups, which are perfect for immediate consumption.

What marketing support do you have for your brands?

We’ve used a variety of marketing mechanics to bring Dole further into the nation’s consciousness this year, including a social media campaign to promote the Dole range as a healthy choice, using the Shopmium app to offer coupons to our consumers in supermarkets. More recently, we launched a campaign which calls attention to the low nutritional value in some of Britain’s favourite snacks and on-the-go food options by printing ads using ink made almost entirely of fruit. A launch film captured the campaign’s innovative approach to communication and consumer education, showcasing posters across the city printed with ink containing more nutritional value than many of the snacks consumed daily in Britain.

How can retailers maximise sales?

By listing both our four-pack and singles range in their ambient desserts fixture and ensuring that the 198g fruit in juice cups are available in the chiller to capitalise on the food to go occasion, maximising sales and minimising waste.



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