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Distributor builds broccoli rabe display of massive proportions

Four Seasons Produce, a full-service distributor of fresh fruits and vegetables based in Ephrata, PA, teamed up with River Valley Co-op of Northampton, MA, and D ‘Arrigo Bros. of California to create an Andy Boy broccoli rabe display of mammoth proportions. 

Built Jan. 11 by Brian Dey, senior merchandiser at Four Seasons Produce, and Henry Kryeski, produce manager at River Valley Co-op, the display contained 2,200 bunches of Andy Boy broccoli rabe in a stunning spectacle of visual beauty and sheer size.RV-Rabe-Display

“We were contacted by D ‘Arrigo Bros in November and they expressed a desire to do ‘something out of this world’ to draw attention to broccoli rabe,” said Dey. “Being a super rabe fan myself, and seeing the potential it had to bring some added exposure to this super green, really got me thinking. We’ve seen huge displays of mangos, pineapples, citrus and apples before, but have we ever seen one with broccoli rabe? I thought ‘why not give it a try?’ So, we did it, and it worked!

“It took almost six full hours to build and get set up, but I can tell you it was one of the most fun displays I have ever built, and it certainly was the most impactful,” added Dey. “The size, sales results and exposure it brought to the commodity were exactly what we set out to accomplish. I have never actually seen customers taking pictures of a display in a supermarket before. Several of them were taking selfies as well. It goes to show you the true and real power of mass merchandising and how creating impactful displays adds to the image and profitability of the department.”

Claudia Pizarro-Villalobos, director of marketing and culinary for D ‘Arrigo Bros. of California, said, “The idea to build the world’s largest broccoli rabe display came from the love of the most nutrient-dense vegetable on the planet. As a specialty item under the Andy Boy label, broccoli rabe is D ‘Arrigo California’s super-green that is not only delicious and bold, but really good for you. At D ‘Arrigo, we love a good challenge so we partnered with Four Season’s and River Valley Co-Op to create the world’s largest broccoli rabe display. The team at River Valley Co-Op led by Brian Dey and Henry Kryeski really ‘rabed the spotlight’ from all other greens to build what we call the ‘wall of rabe fame.’”  

Kryeski and the co-op were overwhelmed by the response they got from the customers. “The look on both employees of the co-op and customers’ faces when they saw the display really set the precedent for the weekends activities,” said Kryeski. “I think everyone thought that we were crazy in a good, fun way.”

The display was a huge success, with River Valley reporting numbers of 2,247 heads sold during the six-day promotion. They carry both conventional and organic broccoli rabe for their customers, and data pulled from their POS system showed that they hit almost identical conventional sales numbers (1,590 units) for a previous three-year period as well as 25 percent of their total organic broccoli rabe sales from that same time period.

“The entire co-op got behind this in a big way, not just the produce team members,” said Kryeski. “The cashiers were talking about it, the other departments were talking about it, and the customers were talking about it with each other. Some strangers sparked up conversations with each other on how to cook their favorite vegetable.

“The store has a prepared foods department which helped in a big way as well,” continued Kryeski. “They prepared many different broccoli rabe dishes over the course of the weekend, from soups and sandwiches to pizza and desserts. These recipes educated consumers on the versatility of the vegetable and introduced dishes that they might not have tried before or were not sure how to prepare.”

Pizarro-Villalobos added, “Our team at D ‘Arrigo California could not believe how the creativity and dedication of 12 man hours could build such a large display that shouted, ‘Live and Eat Boldly with Broccoli Rabe.’ We have never seen such a beautiful and large display of Andy Boy organic and conventional broccoli rabe before. We were thrilled to see a sea of green that served as a backdrop for customers to take their photos at the store.”

Kryeski said the added exposure has now created a regular desire for rabe, adding that when it’s available, he cannot keep it on his shelves. “This event, although it required a lot of planning, moving, and hard work, was extremely satisfying and a lot of fun to do.”