Del Monte is growing its advertising spend to more than £10m next year in a bid to dominate the consumer trend towards conveniently packaged and prepared fresh produce.
The biggest challenge for the company is to put the brand in the chiller cabinets and come up with new concepts that meet growing demand for easy ways to eat fruit and veg, according to Del Monte UK MD Peter Miller.
In the pipeline for 2006 are restaurant quality salads, microwaveable fruit with sauce and fruit snacking products for school vending machines.
Miller said the
possibilities for the brand were almost unlimited after the purchase of Del Monte Foods Europe by the fresh produce company last year. This will be accompanied by a more modern image for the Del Monte name through TV and press advertising.
“People want to eat more fresh produce - the health message is starting to get through,” he said. “Our job is to deliver it to them wherever they want it, on the train or in the office, and in whatever format they want to consume it, whether in a fruit salad or a smoothie. We are in the best position to play a part in the health debate, and I am going to maximise that opportunity to the best of my ability.”
The focus will be on developing products with pan-European appeal, as well as promoting canned fruit as a nutritious option.
Products will have a genuine point of difference from own label packaged fresh produce, Miller promised.
The business is moving away from a reliance on whole fruit to added-value goods; the purchase of three factories in the UK in 2002 has furthered this goal. Currently, Miller said about 55% of the UK business was whole fruit and 45% was canned, beverages and prepared.
Claire Hu