With berries in third place of the retail sales Fresh Produce top ten of Norway, Coop Norway’s 900 stores are confident for the future. Atle Olsen (42), the Category Manager for Fruit & Vegetables at Coop Norge (Norway) since 2004, feels ambitious in building the berry category. Inspiring shop managers to be creative within their presentation and tempting consumers with high quality products is his biggest goal. “You have to seduce consumers to visit your store, to let them buy and make them want to come back.”
Why is the berry department a crucial category to invest in?
“The berry category is really important for turnover in our stores in general. Berries are an attractive product. They are good looking, taste good and are very healthy. In my opinion the berry consumer is really quality-minded. It is not only the berries they are buying, they also buy other products. Berry consumers spend more money in the store and they shop more often than the average consumer. I think the whole Fresh Produce department is significant for the look of our stores. People choose which supermarket they prefer after checking the total Fruit & Vegetable section. Within this category we see that berries are growing. The past three years Coop’s berry turnover has tripled. Our requirements for a good quality berry? They have to be the right size, need to have a great taste and long shelf life.”
Why are berries so popular in Norway? “Soft fruit has always been popular in Norway. It is a tradition to bring your family to the fields and pick berriesyourself or to buy big crates of berries to make your own jam. Norwegian people really care about health and the environment. In our country, people are proud to show that they have a high quality product and they are willing to pay for it. Norwegian consumers buy specific types of berries. Raspberries and blueberries are taking over in the Norwegian market. Blackberries are increasing their market share as well. That is why Coop is investing in suppliers that deliver us all four berry types the whole year round.”
How do you tempt consumers to buy more berries? “Both presentation and high quality products make consumers repurchase berries. Your products have to look good, taste good and have to be at a good price level for the consumer. Berries are an impulse purchase. It is not something that is on your shoppinglist. There is a lot of cross shopping within this category. As Coop, we see an opportunity in berries as an impulse product. If consumers are not tempted enough in the Fruit & Vegetable department, you can seduce them for example in the dairy section to add berries to their yoghurt. Also at the cashier, berries could be offered instead of chocolate or gum, as a snack to go.” How do you promote berries outside of the local season? “Within our stores, we are now thinking of a way to represent berries even better during the winter. We like to promote them as a healthy product. People are making New Year’s resolutions in January to be a better person, train more and eat better. Particularly blueberries and raspberries have a lot of antioxidants and vitamins that will help you feel fit. Also with Valentine’s Day, we promote our strawberries even more. Everybody wants to surprise each other with their own romantic strawberry story in that period of time.”
What do you like about berries as a consumer? “If I think about berries, I think about my daughter who is fifteen years old.She eats berries for breakfast, lunch and dinner and totally loves them. For me it is really the health part that makes me eat them. Berries are good for you, you can bring them with you or can have them as a quick snack from the fridge. My personal favourite is, without a doubt, the raspberry.” What is your vision on the future of the berry category? “I believe the berry category is still going to increase. I have a lot of trust in blackberries and I am sure the blackberry turnover is going to double in a few years. Personally, I want to take the berry category to the next level. My goal is to get berries even higher in the top 3 of retail sales within the Fresh Produce category in Norway by 2015.”