Double Date advances date sales with two-pack and expanded nutrition info
Double Date Packing supports stores in merchandising high-quality dates to shoppers through innovative packaging options and in-store materials. “Dates are becoming very popular,” said Hope Barbee, vice president of sales for the Coachella, CA-based company. “On Instagram and Facebook, they are trending and showing different ways to eat them. We want to give consumers convenient ways to get their dates.”
The company packs dates in several innovative pouch sizes as well as multiple-size clamshells. “The pouch creates a microenvironment that keeps the fruit fresh and slows the natural dehydration of the fruit,” said Barbee. “The pouches are also easy and attractive for shoppers to grab. The clamshells provide for easy stacking.”
Barbee believes the old-style date packaging does not encourage consumers to buy. “Our pouch bags provide alternative size options, are less plastic, and contain attractive and easy-to-read information so consumers have a reason to buy; it’s a game changer,” she said.
A significant Double Date innovation is the development of a quick and easy two-pack.
“The two-packs are fantastic,” Barbee said. “Stores can sell them at a great price and they’re quick and easy for shoppers to grab. Dates are convenient in the two-pack and can be thrown in a backpack, pocket, purse or lunch bag. It’s easy to carry around.”
The two-pack bags feature a hole in the top so stores can merchandise them at check-out. “For many consumers, it’s disappointing in the cashier line that the only options available are junk food or candy,” Barbee said. “More and more consumers are eating and snacking healthy, so it’s good to bring produce into that area.”
Double Date is also helping retailers communicate nutritional benefits by expanding the nutrition information on the label. “We added more educational and nutritional information on our packaging,” Barbee said. “In addition to the required nutrition panel, we added in other minerals and vitamins consumers are looking for in their diet even though that information is not required. With the extended nutritional panel, shoppers can clearly see a detailed nutritional value.”
The grower and packer of Medjool dates are vertically integrated. “We believe if you own every part of your process — meaning growing, packing, and selling — then it helps you control the quality uniformity and consistency of the fruit being sold out to the retailers and wholesalers,” Barbee said. “Because of this, our specifications are very tight.”
Barbee said when customers get a sample, they can expect to receive that same quality fruit in their shipment. “We make a record of what was sent to the customer,” she said. “So, they never get a beautiful sample package and then receive something totally different in the shipment.”
All of Double Date’s ranches are within 15 miles of the packing facility. “The proximity of our ranches helps with the quality of the freshly harvested fruit,” Barbee said. “Our quality control team gathers samples on each lot of fruit upon receiving to run tests according to our specifications and send them out to a third-party lab for micro testing per our food safety protocols. The fruit is then brought into our facility for cleaning and packing. Double Date’s ranches have been owned by our owner for many years but the investment in the packing facility was made seven years ago. It was built with the highest technology available, including solar on all of the buildings. You can literally eat off our floors it’s so clean. Our food safety score through Primus is 100 percent — as it should be.”
People are the heart of Double Date and the company has added one more to its family recently. “In January, we hired on a new operations associate to help make sure we are as efficient as we can be in our plant,” Barbee said. “We are pleased to welcome Mason Perrotta in that role. We consistently analyze our process looking for improvements. As each employee comes into the company, we start them at the ground level to educate them on all aspects of fruit, food safety, and the standards of our company. Once we see the strengths of the employee they are promoted.”