Everybody says YES

Del Monte UK inspires healthy lifestyles through its rich range of fruit-based products, building on a heritage that dates back more than a century

Sporting an impeccable white suit and Panama hat, The Man from Del Monte took Britain’s commercial scene by storm in the 80s and 90s of the 20th century with a catchphrase that has acquired a legendary status ever since – ‘The Man from Del Monte says yes’. The idea for the much-loved character of the technical fruit expert was masterminded by one of the world’s largest food production and distribution companies, Del Monte, whose focus in the UK falls on producing, importing, and marketing high-quality fresh and canned fruits.

Originally established in 1892 when a group of Californian farmers supplied a line of canned peaches, Del Monte first appeared on this side of the Atlantic in 1926 with a canned fruit offering. Thereafter, fresh fruit, including bananas and pineapples, were imported, followed by the production of Del Monte Pure Juices in the 1980s and Fresh Cut Fruit at the dawn of the new century, in 2002.

“We are a global company operating worldwide and while many of our products are consistent throughout all geographic areas, in the UK, we have a more diversified range, particularly with respect to Fresh Cut Fruit and Juice beverages, which are produced locally here,” begins Del Monte UK’s Managing Director, Martin Selley.

It is under three divisions that the business has organised its activities in the UK. “The largest one,” Martin says, “is Del Monte Fresh Cut, which produces fresh fruit conveniently prepared and packaged at a high-care facility based in Cambridgeshire. Local production ensures peak of freshness and maximum shelf life, with various fruits being prepared. Among the most popular of these are Del Monte Gold® Pineapple, Del Monte Fruit Salads, Del Monte Melon and Grape, as well as a number of Fruit Bags selected to provide a portion of fruit for children.”

Del Monte Prepared Foods is the second Del Monte UK division, whose specialism lies in importing and marketing canned fruits such as Del Monte Pineapple, Del Monte Peaches, and Del Monte Fruit Cocktail, as well as fruit pots like Fruit Express – one of the company’s latest products. “The division also licenses Del Monte Pure Juices, Just Juice, and Del Monte lollies and smoothies. The core canned fruits and fruit pots are manufactured at our own facilities in Greece (for deciduous fruits and tomatoes) and Kenya (for pineapples),” Martin details.

New product launches
Last but not least, Del Monte Fresh Produce deals with the import of whole-head fruits into the UK, sourced predominantly from Del Monte farms all over the world. Together with the aforementioned Del Monte Bananas and Del Monte Gold® Pineapples, other fresh products that are being brought to the UK include limes, lemons, kiwi, grapes, berries, and avocado.

In order to stay on top of the game, Del Monte UK makes sure that it freshens up its product range on a regular basis, looking to increase its presence within various segments of the market. Martin reviews some of the latest additions to the business’ offering: “Del Monte Gold® Pineapple Slices & Chunks represents a new variety of pineapple cultivated by Del Monte over 20 years. Left on the plant to mature for longer, it is naturally sweeter and has a smooth texture, as opposed to the ‘everyday’ Standard Cayenne variety. What is more, it also provides up to four times more Vitamin C.

“Recently, we have also released Fruit Express – a range of quality fruit in juice, ideal for lunchboxes, travel, and in-home snacking. The pots come either in 113 grammes (available in Tesco) or 227 grammes (available in Nisa) and their bold graphics and heavy focus on the fruit inside help them to stand out on the shelf and provide a healthy alternative to chocolate bars and crisps,” Martin maintains.

Targeting the littlest customers (aged 3-7), Del Monte UK has come up with its Squeezies that contain no flavourings or preservatives. “Each pouch is a portion of fruit and can be served ambient or chilled. At the moment, they are available in three flavours – apple, strawberry, and banana; apple, strawberry, and blueberry; and apple and mango – and can be found in Asda,” Martin points out. “Finally, we have extended our fresh pineapple line with the Honeyglow® Pineapple, whose name reflects its honey gold colour, achieved thanks to the prolonged maturation on the plant.”

Del Monte UK’s wide portfolio of convenient products can certainly be credited with the 12 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in turnover that the company has recorded. In Martin’s opinion, however, it is a combination of factors that is steering the business forward. “The consumers’ recognition of our brand and heritage as global producers is also playing a role. In addition, we can observe that fruits and vegetables have never felt more important as part of a balanced diet, which is making them more and more sought-after by people.

“In general, the market has presented certain challenges, such as the inflationary pressure caused by the weakness of the pound after the Brexit referendum, and we do not expect it to get much easier for us in the coming years. Our job, in this case, is to foresee and manage the challenges, and continue to provide safe and wholesome food to our customers, while also protecting and ensuring the wellbeing of our planet.”

For Martin, in the future, there will be a drive for the use of sustainable and innovative packaging to become commonplace across the industry. To prepare for the time when this will become a reality, Del Monte UK has already started to look for ways to recycle more and find alternatives to plastic packaging.

“Increasing our usage of sustainable packaging materials is one of our main priorities today. As part of this effort, we are committed to working with suppliers who share this focus and to promoting sustainable packaging initiatives internally,” Martin remarks. “To do this, we have rolled out a centralised tracking system for our packaging initiatives. By doing this, we are better able to monitor what materials we are using, measure 43the success of each programme, and, ultimately, have a clear understanding of the sustainability impacts of each initiative. Our goal for this programme is to eliminate unnecessary packaging materials, implement additional re-usable packaging programmes into our system, increase the use of recycled content in our packaging and deliver packaging that is recyclable according to local standards to our customers and consumers.”

Targeting consumers
Alongside the focus on sustainability initiatives, Del Monte UK has a clear plan on how to stay on the growth curve in the years to come. The company has launched its five-year vision called ‘Inspiring healthy lifestyles through wholesome and convenient products’, which it plans to support with a constantly-expanding product range and intensified marketing efforts.

“If we go back to the advertisement campaign featuring The Man from Del Monte, we are now trying to build on its heritage and move the brand into a modern positioning where not just one individual, but ‘everybody says yes’,” Martin reveals. “By this new slogan, we want to prompt awareness that the Del Monte brand has an offering that suits all – be it canned fruit, juices, fresh cut, frozen, or whole fruit.

“We have also tweaked our communications strategy to target younger consumers via social media. For example, we partner with key bloggers and content creators to spread the word about Del Monte among the younger generation. Furthermore, we have sponsored the Lawn Tennis Association since 2017, with a view to endorse the benefits of a healthy diet combined with an active lifestyle. We are now looking to persevere in our marketing activities to engage more potential customers, which, together with our ever-growing product range, will help us realise our aspiration to grow in double digits over the next five years,” Martin concludes.