All your grape needs in one placeThe ultimate back-to-school treat!

Coloring Outside the Berry Boundaries: A Q&A with Steven Ware, Vice President and General Manager of Value Added, Naturipe

Coloring Outside the Berry Boundaries: A Q&A with Steven Ware, Vice President and General Manager of Value Added, Naturipe

A signature aspect I have always appreciated about fresh produce is how singular it is among the other options available in any given grocery store. Where some segments might give parameters, neat borders within which buyers and consumers alike can color and categorize cleanly, fresh produce will splash far outside the lines in disruptive patterns, bringing beauty and chaos. This, of course, is a double-edged sword. To be unique is to bend or have your own set of rules, and is often misunderstood, falsely categorized, or blatantly mismanaged—the Einsteins that failed school; the Steven Spielbergs turned away from dream universities; the Netflix concepts refused by Blockbuster. Sometimes, it’s easier to be “normal.”

But, normal is not for the produce industry.

Showing these previously produce-jacent departments the benefits of welcoming fresh into its fold, Naturipe is playing by a different set of rules. The team has introduced successful snacking and cross-category value-added items—in league with similar successes in fresh produce introductions—with eyes on a different prize: non-fresh-related departments.

With data, wiliness, and a sense of adventure when it comes to its partnerships, I sat down with Steven Ware to dig into shaking up this already dynamic category.

 


Melissa De Leon Chavez: Steven, the Naturipe team and Naturipe Snacks continue to propel new opportunities for how a berry item might be defined, and therefore sold. Can you tell me a bit about the power driving this and what retailers should know?

Steven Ware: The success of Naturipe Snacks comes from the power of the fresh berry category. Fresh berries are the largest segment in fresh fruit at over $7.8 billion and growing in double-digits. We take the powerhouse that is fresh berries, wash them, then add in the perfect complementary components that are healthy and delightful with extended shelf-life. It is an exciting time to bring these products to market.

 


MDC: It sounds like the company is taking that step even further by recognizing not just the pairing options, but where shoppers are seeing them. Can you tell me about that?

SW: Yes, one of our key achievements thus far is how we have opened up new sales channels that have not historically seen a lot of fresh berries.

We are excited to be in the convenience stores arena as well as the drug store channel while maintaining our well-known, high-quality fresh offerings. We are diversifying our resources to further strengthen our position as an ideal supply partner and changing how our product is defined.


MDC: How do these new channels follow changes you have been seeing on the berry scene in recent years, and what can push those changes even further?

SW: Through consumer research, we have found that people love their berries and want to be able to enjoy them in even more ways. We created our Naturipe Snacks products to fill a demand gap in the market and to help shoppers incorporate more berries into different parts of their lives. The ready-to-go snacks make it easier to have berries at breakfast, lunch, during school and work, after school, and even during holiday travel.

“Fresh berries are the largest segment in fresh fruit at over $7.8 billion and growing in double-digits. We take the powerhouse that is fresh berries, wash them, then add in the perfect complementary components...”

Steven Ware, Vice President and General Manager of Value Added, Naturipe


MDC: Coming off of back-to-school and going into the holidays, this seems like an especially great time for that! What are some creative ways retailers can capitalize on berries for fall and winter, especially Naturipe’s growing snack offerings?

SW: Retailers can offer Naturipe Snacks as the shopper solution for staying energized with all the after-school activities and for the daily office grind.

Naturipe Snacks’ product line includes bento boxes Boost Bentos™ and Bliss Bentos™, which offer a mix of nuts, cheeses, and, of course, Naturipe berries; Berry Parfaits, to make morning meals easier for everyone; and Smart Cups, the all-fruit cups in different flavor combinations that make great at-school snacks. These convenient snacks are perfect for families and those on the go this fall. With school in full swing and the upcoming holidays, everyone’s schedules are jam-packed. Naturipe Snacks’ line of products is healthy, filling, and convenient.
 


MDC: I continue to mentally adjust to the idea of these sweet fresh options even being an option this late in the year, so I imagine some retailers are too. What should buyers know about Naturipe’s offerings amid the winter time frame?

SW: Naturipe Snacks are available year-round from our bicoastal production facilities, and our berries are farmed in the most optimal seasonal growing regions to ensure consistently high-quality products throughout the year. Additionally, Naturipe Snacks are available across the country, as our distribution continues to increase.

The time of year is no longer a reason for your shoppers not to enjoy healthy and delicious berries.


Indeed, while other sections in the store might enjoy parameters and well-behaved definitions, fresh produce, and those who sell it, enjoy eating boundaries for breakfast. As this pattern continues on the journey to new frontiers for our industry, Naturipe Snacks is at the head of the charge, contrivance at the ready—be that a breakfast spoon, a paintbrush, or a sledgehammer.

Whatever it takes is exactly what food innovation requires. 

Coloring Outside the Berry Boundaries: A Q&A with Steven Ware, Vice President and General Manager of Value Added, Naturipe