If you’re a fruit marketer, you probably feel pretty good about the health and exercise trend we’ve been living through for some time now. Unless, that is, you’re Chiquita. While the company was happy to ride along as consumers paid more and more attention to what they eat, it also realized that because ripe bananas spoil more quickly than other fruits, they were only sold in green, not-yet-ripe bunches. This means that it is very hard to purchase a single, ready-to-eat banana at a convenience store, fast food outlet, or other eat on the run outlets. While it participated in the better health trend by default, it couldn’t take advantage of consumers’ desire for convenient, portable, ready-to-eat food. An article in the International Herald Tribune (from the Boston Globe), says Chiquita may have solved that problem:
So Gen3, a product innovation consulting company, researched ways to ship bananas in the perfectly ripe yellow state and keep them that way when they arrive at shops. The company found that the pharmaceutical industry had engineered plastics that regulate air flow in boxes and decided to apply that technology to bananas.
At Chiquita’s packaging plants, workers hand-pick the bananas heading to convenience stores and other fast-food outlets for their ideal size, color, shape and ripeness. The single bananas are laid on top of one another in boxes covered with a semipermeable membrane that allows oxygen to pass through but controls the flow of carbon dioxide to delay ripening until the box is opened.
So Chiquita sells more bananas and banana loving consumers will soon be happy to find their favorite fruit where they want it when they want it. Chiquita did some research in 2005 that told them “42 percent of people would eat more bananas if they were available in more locations.” More importantly, I think, Chiquita recognized the trend toward convenience and hurried lifestyles, or the “transumer” trend as Trendwatching has dubbed it, and innovated to give consumers what they want. Why only take advantage of one trend, when you can use another as well?