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The Banana Bunch.

Byline: Jennifer Strailey

MASS 'AP-PEEL'

Kids went bananas for Dole's Peel the Love Tour.

Convenient, nutritious and delicious, bananas are a snack the whole family can enjoy - and they do, with gusto. According to the NPD Group, banana consumption has been on the rise among children, men and women since 2004. The increase has been most significant among kids, with annual eatings per capita up from 26.5 in 2004 to 34.1 in 2012.

Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD also reports that bananas are the third most popular morning food and the most popular breakfast fruit.

Chances are folks have a bunch ripening on their kitchen counters right now, as bananas are purchased by 88 percent of all U.S. households, according to Nielsen Perishables Group FreshFacts powered by Spire for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 29, 2012. They're the No. 1 fruit in terms of household penetration.

While the popularity of bananas is driven in part by America's growing interest in healthful snacks, especially those that are portable, a number of suppliers are hoping to increase sales even further with creative promotions and partnerships.

Bananas and the Big Screen

Chiquita Brands International, based in Charlotte, N.C., partnered with Universal and Illumination Entertainment for the release of "Despicable Me 2" this summer. "The stars of this blockbuster were the mischievous yellow Minions, and their favorite food is bananas, making it a natural tie-in for Chiquita," says Rob Adams, senior marketing manager.

Chiquita will reteam with Universal for the launch of the film's DVD in December. The campaign will feature print, digital and in-store POS.

"The goal is to draw excitement and interest around the banana table with a sweepstakes and banana labels featuring the consumer's favorite Minion characters," Adams explains. "Partnerships like this one, especially, have a broad appeal and only serve to generate interest in bananas and increased consumption."

On the Road Again

This summer also marked the launch of Dole Banana's Peel the Love Summer Food Truck Tour, a 102-day, eight-city journey to get Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables.

"We have been very pleased with the response from this summer's Peel the Love Food Truck tour both from the public as well as our retail partners," says Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications for the Westlake Village, Calif.-based company.

Co-sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze and Dole Packaged Foods, the tour, which began on May 25 in Seattle and ended in New York on Sept. 2, stopped at supermarkets and public events to sample recipes made with bananas, and to offer recipe cards and giveaways.

Dole selected the eight cities - Seattle; Sacramento, Calif.; Los Angeles; Phoenix; Houston; Des Moines, Iowa; Baltimore/Washington, D.C.; and New York - because they all boast per capita banana consumption well above the national average.

"In all the markets we visited, we received great enthusiasm and support for our recipes and messages on the fun and delicious options inherent in bananas," Goldfield says. "We plan to continue to Peel the Love next year."

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Author:Strailey, Jennifer
Publication:Progressive Grocer
Date:Sep 1, 2013
Words:594
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