Pluots - A Delicious Summer Treat
Pluots might be one of the best tasting fruits that you will ever eat. They have one of the highest brix level readings on a refractometer of any fruit on the market. What this means is that it is one of the sweetest treats that you will ever put into your mouth. So as you might have guessed (or already know based on the name), a Pluot is a hybrid fruit that is part plum and part apricot in heritage. These fruits were originally invented in the late 20th century by Floyd Zaiger and are now grown in parts of Washington and California with the season peaking soon as we move into July and August. The primary objective of cross-pollination is to increase the flavor and eating quality of a fruit. With the Pluot success has been achieved!
Pluots have a majority of plum parentage and therefore have smooth skin like plums. The Pluot is often confused with the Aprium which is another plum and apricot hybrid with mostly apricot heritage. Like apricots, Apriums have slightly fuzzy skin. Both Pluots and Apriums are known for their sweetness and flavor; the sugar content of these fruits is much higher than that of a plum or apricot alone.
Approximately 20 varieties of pluots have been developed and bred by Zaiger Genetics. Each variety contains a different percentage of plum and apricot parentage. These varieties vary in size, skin color, and flesh color. The skin can be solid, striped, or speckled and skin colors range from yellow-green to black. The flesh of the Pluot ranges from white to red in color. A few of the more well known varieties include: Dinosaur Eggs, Dapple Dandy, Flavor King, Flavor Queen, Flavor Supreme, and Flavor Rosa.
Pluots were introduced into the mainstream market in 1989 and since that time the challenge for retail produce operations is how to get their customers excited about this very flavorful, and sometimes very strange looking fruit. Most shoppers expect their summer plums to either be red or black in color. The green plums (which are also quite flavorful) as well as the Pluots tend to lag behind in Plum sales often because they do not have the traditional look of a plum. The challenge for retailing Pluots is to break up the traditional mindset of the customer as to what a plum or plum-like fruit should look like.
As with most fruits the easiest way to introduce Pluots, and to get your customers excited about them, is to sample the fruit. In the end it is always about flavor. Once a customer has tasted this fruit, it’s difficult to imagine that at least one Pluot would not end up in their shopping cart.
How you merchandise Pluots is also critical to the success of their sales. Typically what happens is that the red and black plums get their usual strong displays and then the Pluots are placed in a small basket, automatically getting that “specialty item” classification. From a merchandising perspective the “specialty-item” classification can be the kiss of death to a produce item. If you really want to get your shoppers excited about Pluots, have a display that is at least equal to the other plum displays. Follow this up with sampling, some informative signage (visit our full site to download an attractive sign), and some great “Pluot Dialogue” with the customers, and this delicious product will be flying off the rack. Good luck with your Pluot sales!