The UK marketing campaign for Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) Spanish Persimon has got underway with its first foray into the foodservice channel, combined with a raft of in-store and online promotions across five leading retailers. PBUK gets the lowdown on the new approach for 2017/18 that places communicating the benefits of PDO-certified fruit at the heart of its activities.
“This marks the next stage of the campaign,” explains Rafael Perucho, head of the Kaki de la Ribera del Xúquer regulatory council, which governs the fruit’s PDO status and the body that has worked with Foods & Wines from Spain to promote PDO Spanish Persimon since 2005.
“The thrust of the campaign is now the fruit’s PDO status, which guarantees the fruit’s heritage; its quality, variety and source,” he tells PBUK.
“Growers in Valencia’s Ribera del Xúquer valley have 50-60 years’ experience of growing the Rojo Brillante variety and the climate and soils around the river Xúquer give PDO Spanish Persimon a unique flavour, appearance and quality.”
As part of reinforcing the marketing of PDO Spanish Persimon in the UK, the campaign is making inroads into the foodservice sector, alongside ongoing retail activities.
“It forms part of our strategy going forward to give the industry another avenue for its product,” explains Perucho. “Adding an extra element is a way of revitalising the campaign too.”
So far, Foods & Wines from Spain is working with a number of both Spanish and non-Spanish restaurants in the UK, including the Ibérica Group and Spanish chef and restaurateur José Pizarro.
“Restaurants want to source good quality food but they don’t always know about persimon or the PDO Spanish Persimon,” Perucho points out.
“We’re sending restaurants boxes of the fruit, teaching them about the importance and benefits of PDO seal and supporting their chefs to incorporate PDO Spanish Persimon into their menus.
“Some of the restaurants are also offering prizes via social media to win meals for two people.”
Perucho says the first steps into the foodservice scene has resulted in even Foods & Wines from Spain learning about new applications for persimon.
“The restaurants are telling us a lot about what you can do with the fruit,” notes Perucho. “The chefs have come up with so many ideas, even at the non-Spanish restaurants.
“Persimon is special because it can be eaten every way. There are no pips, no seeds; the entire fruit is edible – you can eat the flesh and the skin; it can be eaten hard or soft; and it can be used raw in salads or cooked in various ways.”
Indeed, as well as being a healthy snacking fruit that’s high in antioxidants and eaten just like an apple, the new foodservice campaign highlights the various usages for persimon as a cooking ingredient.
According to Foods & Wines from Spain, persimon can be added to salads, main meals, desserts or smoothies; and it pairs particularly well with chicken, pork, duck and white fish thanks to its sweet, delicate flavour which is similar to a peach or a mango.
To demonstrate the versatility of the fruit, last week (9 November) Foods & Wines from Spain held a special lunch for food writers, journalists and bloggers at Spanish tapas restaurant Ibérica Marylebone on London’s Great Portland Street.
In celebrating the start of the 2017/18 season, the media representatives experienced first-hand the diverse usages together with the distinctive and delicate flavours of PDO Spanish Persimon.
Ibérica Marylebone chef Luis Contreras is just one chef who has discovered new ways to use persimon as a result of the campaign’s new push into the foodservice sector.
“This was a challenge for me; I didn’t realise persimon could be used in so many different types of dishes,” he explained as he presented his lunch menu that featured a fresh persimon salad starter, sea trout with pickled persimon, venison meatballs accompanied by a persimon purée and lastly a Crema Catalana containing caramelised persimon in cider.
“Persimon is an amazing fruit,” he added. “It’s very versatile. You can mix it with other fruits or vegetables, use it in drinks or even pickle it.”
On the retail market, the 2017/18 initiative is building on 12 years of successful promotions that have seen sales of PDO Spanish Persimon rise from just 80,000 units in 2005 to a huge 25 million units last season.
“The retail campaign is just getting underway now and sales are going well,” Perucho explains, adding that stores will stock the fruit until the end of January 2018.
“The retailers are being particularly supportive.”
This season, the campaign has the backing of Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, the Co-operative Food and one of the discounters.
To drive in-store sales, Foods & Wines from Spain is offering an on-pack competition for consumers to win a holiday to Valencia.
Retail packs of Spanish Persimon will also contain leaflets with recipe ideas, a QR code as well as a link to find out more information on the campaign website www.spanishpersimon.co.uk.
A further exciting promotion is taking place at Sainsbury’s where 10,000 PDO Spanish Persimon fruits are being offered as a free giveaway to online shoppers.
“Anyone shopping online for exotic fruits will be offered the chance to add a free PDO Spanish Persimon to their baskets,” explains Perucho.
“Those shoppers will also receive a link to the Spanish Persimon website to learn more about this special fruit.”
Perucho says the online giveaway promotion ran last year and was a hit with shoppers.
“It’s all about encouraging the discovery and trial of the fruit,” he notes. “There are many consumers who are yet to learn about persimon.
“PDO Spanish Persimon is a unique product. It’s seasonal and it’s different to sharon fruit. It’s still a product that the retailers take to because they want to offer their shoppers something different.
“The UK retailers still get excited about the season and they get behind the campaign in a huge way each year.”
As for the crop, Perucho says the 2017/18 season is shaping up “very well”.
“The crop is slightly larger this year due to the weather providing good growing conditions – added to the fact that planting has increased because of the sales success of the fruit.”