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California Strawberries Foodservice Promotion in Hong Kong




California Strawberries have a sophisticated performance in the retail sector in Hong Kong, available in over 60% of the supermarkets in the region. By comparison, the expansion into the foodservice application is still at its beginning stage. Thus in 2018, the California Strawberry Commission (CSC) adjusted its strategy to seek breakthroughs into the HRI channel in Hong Kong for fresh California strawberry products. Menu promotion is an effective tool to reach target consumers looking for California strawberries in their dining. It also helps educate chefs in the industry and showcase to them the versatile applications of California strawberries, adding value to the menu. A buffet with a theme in Hong Kong is very famous. As it is popular for families and friends to often join the tea buffet for gathering, the CSC decided to partner with a reputable hotel in Hong Kong to promote the California strawberries. Island Pacific Hotel is managed by the Sino Group, which encompasses over 3,600 guestrooms and suites in ten hotels across Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. The hotel currently operates two restaurants, and its daily tea and dinner buffet has been a highlight among consumers in Hong Kong for its extraordinary quality. The executive pastry chef of the hotel designed 6 desserts using California strawberries as a key ingredient including California Strawberry Cheese Pie, California Strawberry & Pear Frasier Cake, California Strawberry Mousse Mille Feuilles, California Strawberry Pancakes, California Strawberry & Grand Marnier Pavlova and California Strawberry Tiramisu. The California Strawberry Dessert Menu was featured in both restaurants of the hotel during the promotional period ranging from October 1 throughout to December 31, 2018. Specialty promotional area was set up within the restaurants to highlight the six California strawberry dessert dishes, decorated with theme POP materials to capture the attention of the dining consumers. Executive Pastry Chef Lam and Manager Jasmine Yeung from Island Pacific Hotel were very satisfied with the outstanding result of the menu promotion and gave positive feedback. They mentioned that people like the desserts using California strawberries, which led to more traffic to the restaurants and increased sales. The sales at the buffet during the promotional period achieved a growth rate of 172% compared to the same period the year before. After receiving the sales report, the hotel has decided to use California strawberries for long term in their restaurants. Jasmine mentioned that before the menu promotion, the rate of occupancy rate of their tea buffet was about 40% and now can reach 80% on average and even capacity at times. Witnessing the growth brought by the California Strawberry promotion, the hotel continued the event through January 31, 2019. The success of this promotion also served as a testament for other new foodservice providers and suppliers. Other chefs noted the advantages of using California strawberries when visiting the promotion, stimulating their interest in carrying California strawberries. In addition to the sales boost, the media exposure for California strawberries was largely improved in Hong Kong. Am730, an influential newspaper in Hong Kong, published 2 advertisements highlighting the promotion followed by a Facebook news feed on their page. There were also 2 Facebook posts on the hotel’s fan page and 6 Facebook posts on Craving Sketchers’ fan page. Media coverage for California Strawberries reached over 2 million consumers in Hong Kong. With the promotion becoming successful, three other media outlets in Hong Kong reported the event and a few accounts on Instagram highlighted the California strawberry dessert menu. The event generated a media value over USD $120,000. The California Strawberry Commission is a state government agency located in Northern California representing strawberry growers, shippers, and processors in the State. Nearly 90 percent of U.S.-grown strawberries are produced in California. The Commission leverages export promotion funds administered by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service to promote U.S. strawberry exports.