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Little Vegetable, Big Potential: Three Ways to Merchandise Brussels Sprouts
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Little Vegetable, Big Potential: Three Ways to Merchandise Brussels Sprouts

For years, Brussels sprouts have worked hard to overcome a somewhat bitter reputation. All that hard work is finally paying off. Consumers are no longer labeling the vegetable a villain; instead, they see Brussels sprouts as a versatile veggie that’s a great addition to side and main dishes alike.

Robinson Fresh Brussels Freshspective

As a member of the Brassica oleracea group—the same family as broccoli, cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables—it’s no surprise that Brussels sprouts are considered one of the green powerhouses of the produce aisle. They’re small but mighty, packed with health-boosting vitamins and a slew of important minerals.

Brussels sprouts have a significantly longer growth cycle than their culinary cousins. It takes broccoli and cabbage roughly 80 days—give or take, depending on weather conditions—to grow from seed to harvest-ready status. Brussels sprouts, on the other hand, take six to seven months. The longer growing time means it’s critical that you plan well in advance to make sure you secure the stock you want, when you want it.

Peak season for Brussels sprouts is during the fall and winter months, which also aligns with peak demand for the veggie. As a popular holiday meal component, Brussels sprout consumption kicks up between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And while perfectly roasted Brussels sprouts can take any holiday meal from good to great, there’s so much more potential, because they are available all year long.

3 Produce Merchandising Ideas for Brussels Sprouts

There are plenty of opportunities to create more year-round consumer demand for Brussels sprouts. Here are three ideas to get you started:

  1. Start with the basics. Consumers are more inclined to purchase produce when they know exactly what they can expect from it. If you’re selling Brussels sprouts in bulk, let shoppers know what to look for in a fresh sprout (tightly packed, bright green leaves; the smaller the sprout, the sweeter the flavor). Provide shelf life and storage information at your display (when refrigerated, Brussels sprouts can keep for a week or more—so they’re a great veggie to keep on hand), and share cooking and preparation tips while emphasizing the versatility of Brussels sprouts. For example, they taste great roasted, steamed, sautéed, and even raw, and they can be enjoyed whole, halved, sliced, or shredded after the ends are trimmed and they’re given a good rinse.
  2. Remember, variety is the spice of life. Bagged, whole Brussels sprouts are the common consumer preference; value adds like shredded or chopped Brussels sprouts are another popular choice for the convenience factor. Another option to consider carrying is still-on-the-stalk Brussels sprouts—a novel option that appeals to shoppers with its unique aesthetic that evokes farm-fresh authenticity. To meet your shoppers’ purchasing and eating habits, it’s a best practice to offer Brussels sprouts in a variety of ways.
  3. Leverage the selling power of power greens. Remember when kale was all the rage? It was everywhere—on every restaurant menu and in every shopping cart. Overall demand of kale has slowed a bit, but some of that momentum has transferred into the Brussels sprouts world. Take advantage of the opportunity of consumers’ excitement about Brussels sprouts by cross-promoting them with other power greens and foods with complementary flavors. Prompt sales by displaying Brussels sprouts alongside kale and dried cranberries for salad inspiration, with root vegetables for a roasted vegetable medley, and with proteins like pork or salmon for a one-stop mealtime shopping experience.

Interested in exploring a Brussels sprouts program with Robinson Fresh? With bagged, whole Brussels sprouts and value added products like the Glory Foods® Power Essence™ kale and shredded Brussels sprouts blend available, we can put together the right program for your business. Let’s connect!

Kurt Breeggemann

Kurt Breeggemann - category manager, Robinson Fresh

Kurt has been with Robinson Fresh for almost 15 years. He is a category manager of the Western Vegetable and Greens Category for the company's northern region and also manages the division's strategic supplies in the same categories.
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