Retail Sales

I’ve spoken with many processors over the last year, all with a huge variety of products – from apple slices to onions to salad greens to celery. Though they all have different products, they’re all facing similar issues. Everyone in fresh-cut is dealing with product development, food safety and marketing, among other issues. And all processors who sell to the retail market are looking for ways to make their products stand out and be a hit with grocery store consumers.

One of the common threads has been processors working closely with retailers to make sure products are displayed and merchandised properly. In April’s issue of Fresh Cut, Steve Dickstein spoke about working with retailers – and the end consumer – to make sure product is safe all through the chain. Ready Pac recognizes that food safety doesn’t stop once product leaves the processing facility, and they work with produce departments to make sure product remains safe at the store level.

Ready Pac isn’t the only company doing that. Dole Fresh Vegetables, for instance, takes its retailer partners through training.

“We take the retailers and foodservice operators through training about cross contamination and protecting the cold chain – protecting the cold chain is the most important,” said Eric Schwartz, president of the fresh vegetables division of Dole. “Once it leaves our hands, (retailers and foodservice operators) are controlling the product until it gets to consumers.”

Another common trend when working with retailers is private labeling. In December, I spoke with some members of the team at River Ranch Fresh Foods – a company that is working on that private-label trend.

“These retailers are spending billions consolidating their brands, so why not exploit it?” said Jim Lucas, CEO and president of River Ranch Fresh Foods.

Private labeling gives processors a chance to get their products to consumers while giving retailers an edge over their competition.

Other areas where retailers and fresh-cut processors can help each other is by tracking purchases at the point of sale. This can help determine what consumers are looking for in the produce department. In-store sampling helps get new products out to the consumer base.

What some retailers are doing is setting up highly interactive produce departments, including video monitors that tell the story of a certain product. Why not partner with a retailer to tell the story of a fresh-cut product from field to fork?

There are a lot of opportunities for those processors and retailers who go beyond the supplier-buyer mindset and work in a true partnership. Partnerships benefit both of those links of the food-supply chain – not to mention the high-quality service and products they bring to the retail floor for consumers.

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