I am, first and foremost, a student.
A student of literature, a student of life, and now, a student of the industry.
Ever since I was two years old, I carried books with me, mumbling stories under my breath, incoherent to everyone except myself. Even then, I hungered after the pull of a new story, of learning how the intricacies of fact and tale intertwined to create compelling narratives.
Perhaps a bit lofty for a child, but I don’t want to underestimate the power of learning—especially within this industry.
“Student” carries with it a connotation of pliability, of suppleness, as you weave new knowledge into seasoned understanding. To thrive in fresh produce, one must always be a student. The willingness to learn that compels us toward discovery drives innovation, expansion, and growth.
For Naturipe Farms, the grower has been a student of consumer trends for decades. This behavior has played into an expansion strategy that penetrates the snacking sector—a spot fresh produce has long chased after.
“We introduced Naturipe Snacks™ a few years ago as we identified consumers’ increased desire for healthier, well-balanced, ready-to-eat fresh snacks,” CarrieAnn Arias, the produce powerhouse’s Vice President of Marketing, shares with me.
We’re charting the growth of the company’s ever-expanding snacking operation and how Naturipe nabbed the chance to grow in a space that center store has held in its grasp.
“This year, we rebranded Naturipe Snacks to better align with our corporate rebrand and relaunched the original snack line as Boost Bentos™. Simultaneously, we introduced our newest extension to the snack line, the Bliss Bentos™, to expand the original snacks line and deliver more options that consumers are looking for,” CarrieAnn notes.
“These products take snacking to a whole new level with carefully selected ingredients that provide not only the best combination of flavors, but also health-beneficial nutrients.”
CarrieAnn Arias, Vice President of Marketing, Naturipe Farms
Development for these products required Naturipe to take its role as a student just one step farther. When the situation requires it, the student can become the teacher and the produce department can become the classroom.
“Now, more than ever before, consumers are health-conscious and looking for foods that will not only satisfy their cravings, but also fuel their bodies with immunity-boosting nutrients. We believe this trend will continue to grow as long as consumers have an increased understanding of how the food they’re consuming impacts their health,” she expresses.
CarrieAnn continues with the idea that consumers are looking for healthy options that satiate them and that they also feel good about eating.
“We will continue to see this influence their purchasing behavior and interest in Naturipe Snacks,” she says
Staying ahead of consumer buying behaviors positions the berry behemoth to deliver ideal programs to the buy-side as more shoppers head to the produce aisle for their snacking needs.
“Retailers are loving the Bliss Bentos, and the line extension has been very well received,” Steve Ware, Vice President and General Manager of Value-Added Fresh, comments. “We have continued to roll out these indulgent, healthy snacks with new retail partners and expand into new markets since our July launch. We’re even seeing a great demand from unexpected outlets, such as convenience stores, since these are a unique snack offering of fresh produce that’s great for those on the go.”
CarrieAnn adds to Steve’s insight, explaining why shoppers are driven to add Naturipe’s products to their carts. It’s a delicate blend of market strategy and forward-thinking.
“Each of the Naturipe Snacks Bentos come in four different flavors, combining a variety of specialty ingredients with fresh, high-quality fruits in a ready-to-eat, portable container. For a heartier snack with an added boost of protein, the Boost Bentos offer a mix of cheeses, nuts, and fresh fruit. On the sweeter side, the Bliss Bentos put a healthy twist on an indulgent snack with unique ingredients such as lemon coconut granola and chocolate-covered chickpeas, paired with fresh fruit. These products take snacking to a whole new level with carefully selected ingredients that provide not only the best combination of flavors, but also health-beneficial nutrients,” she remarks.
“At Naturipe, our priority is to always provide our customers with what they need and want.”
Steve Ware, Vice President and General Manager of Value-Added Fresh, Naturipe Farms
As it continues investing in research and development (R&D), Naturipe advances the student ethos I outlined in the beginning. It’s impossible to exist successfully in an industry that shifts as often as ours without chasing after innovations that are yet unheard of.
“At Naturipe, our priority is to always provide our customers with what they need and want,” Steve explains. “We’re always listening to them and innovating new products to better align with their interests. We will continue to do this so our consumers can always find what they’re looking for, whether it is ready-to-eat snacks or their favorite Naturipe fresh berries that burst with flavor.”
Perhaps my favorite thing about being a student of fresh produce is learning how moments in one year influence the next. Naturally, Naturipe—a driver of new lines and expansion—did not disappoint.
“We are starting to see retailers design and emphasize grab-and-go sections for snacking in the produce set. Traditionally, you may have seen a shelf of apple-based value-added products, but retailers are now focused on creating sections that give consumers more choices, which drives sales. We see this continuing into the next year,” Steve concludes.
Being a student has made me even more appreciative of the work done by growers, marketers, and suppliers of fresh produce. We are never far off from hitting the books, so to speak, putting our pen to paper as we blend the successes of today with the creativity of tomorrow.