DEL MONTE GOES FOR GOLD WITH NEW PINEAPPLE

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Del Monte Fresh Produce here has introduced what it calls the first new commercial pineapple variety in 20 years -- the Del Monte Gold. The new variety, which is debuting in select markets this month, has a significantly sweeter flavor, a unique golden color and a higher vitamin C content than other pineapple varieties, according to the company."The pineapple is outstanding,"

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Del Monte Fresh Produce here has introduced what it calls the first new commercial pineapple variety in 20 years -- the Del Monte Gold. The new variety, which is debuting in select markets this month, has a significantly sweeter flavor, a unique golden color and a higher vitamin C content than other pineapple varieties, according to the company.

"The pineapple is outstanding," said Peter Ross, fresh produce buyer for Heinen's in Warrensville Heights, Ohio, one of the retail operators that are carrying the Del Monte Gold.

Heinen's broke a two-page ad in a local newspaper May 8 playing up the Del Monte Gold. The ad also included Holland vine-ripe tomatoes. Ross said the two items were run together, since both are classy, more upscale items.

Heinen's is promoting the pineapple in print ads, along with in-store sampling, said Ross. The chain will also probably tie in the new item with its radio and television ads, he said.

Other retailers carrying the pineapple include Dominick's Finer Foods, Northlake, Ill.; Marsh Supermarkets, Indianapolis; Bi-Lo, Mauldin, S.C., and Mile's Farmers Markets, Cleveland.

Several divisions of Penn Traffic Co., including Big Bear Stores, Columbus, Ohio; Insalaco Markets, Scranton, Pa., and P&C Food Markets, Syracuse, N.Y., are also entry markets for the Del Monte Gold.

In Detroit, the Del Monte Gold will be sold through Shopping Center Markets and local produce marketers, Del Monte officials said. The pineapple has a suggested retail of $3.49 to $3.99 each.

Del Monte is initially limiting the rollout to 10 markets, according to Tim Cunniff, director of marketing for Del Monte. "We're still limited in terms of supplies," he said. "Volume is the main issue.

"But we want to make sure we're marketing it correctly," he said.

The company has an extensive, two-pronged marketing plan for the Del Monte Gold, he said.

The first involves in-store sampling and marketing. All the pineapples have neck-hangers, which include an "800" number customers can call. The second part of the campaign involves extensive public relations with major media in each of the rollout markets. Cunniff said Del Monte spent about 10 years developing the new pineapple variety, which is grown in Costa Rica.