Can you please tell us a bit about Prominent and the role that DOOR Partners is playing to develop the tomato brand’s sales and marketing programmes?
Perry Dekkers: Prominent is a brand of the grower cooperative DOOR UA, which is responsible for the sales, marketing and quality control of the product. DOOR has an independent position in the market, and our export partners are selected very carefully. Only together with our selected partners can we offer retailers an excellent service like no other. Sharing knowledge and exploring the market brings us new opportunities.
Our marketing strategy places a firm focus on supply chain management and trade marketing. We identify the needs of retailers and their shoppers. We share our creative ideas, uncover new opportunities, and discuss with our partners and retailers how we can grow their market. We advise our clients by analysing market data, exploring new sales channels, and researching new product combinations. A category vision and growth drivers for vegetables, assortment advice, and new product development are just a few examples.
How would you describe the European market for fresh tomatoes at present?
Wim van den Berg: The European tomato market is very diverse when we look at the different countries – northern versus southern ones, but also specific ranges in the countries of eastern Europe. Tomato demand is more or less stable, with the volume per household dropping on average, but the value increasing and continuing to increase. The tomato range has become wider and more diverse, and in the last few years the share of small tomato types has increased. Our focus remains on the most important and largest markets; Germany, UK, Scandinavia and countries in southern Europe. We also see growth in eastern European countries like Poland.
In terms of the products themselves, where in the tomato market do you see the most significant potential for growth? And what, in your opinion, will drive that growth?
WvdB: The largest potential growth is in the segments of smaller tomato types. Health, convenience and taste are important consumer values and drivers for growth, and consumers are more into healthier snacking because they are paying more attention to a healthier lifestyle. Also the type of packaging is important. This must be the right unit, sustainable and convenient.
What will drive that growth? Attractive and healthy tomatoes, sustainable packaging and tasty products, with marketing based on more than health benefits. Most consumers are already aware that fruit and vegetables are good for their health, so the focus should be more on informing consumers about alternative eating occasions, convenience, taste, enjoyment and sustainability. Reducing inconvenience is also important. Inconvenience is often cited as a barrier to consumption of fruits and veg; the industry must continue to find innovative ways to boost convenience.
What investments are you making to ensure that the Prominent tomato brand continues to flourish and grow?
PD: We invest in data, in gaining consumer insights, in product development and trade marketing. Above all, we invest in a better understanding of each retailer and its shoppers, and in optimising our supply chain. Providing knowledge about the product’s characteristics and benefits to the consumer is just one part of that mix. By being in contact with the consumer and our product specialists throughout the entire process, we develop the best products together.
What share of Prominent’s tomato sales are through the modern grocery retail business? What about wholesale? And is the online retail sector becoming more important?
WvdB: It’s about 80 per cent retail and 20 per cent wholesale. Online shopping is an important growth driver for groceries, even though value share is still limited. Fresh produce is doing well on the online shelves: figures show that, with a 6.7 per cent share, vegetables are at the top of online supermarket offer.
What are you doing to ensure the tomato category is merchandised and marketed in the right way?
PD: Starting a discussion with partners and retailers together pays off. By joining forces to share knowledge and insights, we create successful sales strategies, with a focus on the characteristics of fresh produce and the needs of consumers. Optimal presentation – through target marketing and functional in-store displays – could give sales an enormous boost.
This year Prominent has organised a cooking competition called Prominent Kids Food Challenge, for young chefs and their parents. Cooking together is not only great fun, it can also encourage families to start serving healthier dishes. Through their enthusiasm, children can inspire parents to use fresh produce more often, and what is learned in the cradle lasts until the grave. When children learn that healthy cooking is terrific and tasty, they are more inclined to choose healthy products in the future.
Through events like these, Prominent is trying to create young ambassadors that inspire others to start using fresh produce. After the great success of this first edition, Prominent is hungry for more, so we will organise other events in the future to inspire new target groups to start using fresh produce. Think of a Vegan Food Challenge, for example. We want as many consumers as possible to have a go themselves and have fun in the kitchen.
Our dream is that any consumer is as passionate as we are about enjoying our healthy, tasty tomatoes every day. Join our challenge!