Written by Jose Cartamil & Tom Foss
Once fresh produce is picked, it is dying, plain and simple. Trying to maximize its life and freshness for your customers is key for great sales, reduced shrink, great margins, and satisfied customers. Use these keys below as reminders for how to stay fresh and focused on profits:
· Culling/Rotation- A must for a business. Cull the department at least twice daily. Rule of thumb; if you wouldn’t buy it, don’t try to sell it. Rotation of not only product on the sales floor, but product in the coolers and backrooms as well. First in, first out is the best practice.
· Space to Sales Allocation- Are you over shelved on certain items, varieties, or sections? Sometimes if you have too much produce on the sales floor, that produce will sit and not sell in a timely manner. This will create poor quality produce conditions on the sales floor.
· Proper Refrigeration- Keeping product cool will extend shelf life. The optional temperature for fresh produce is between 34 and 40 degrees. Carlson AirFlo products help to maintain an optimum temperature for keeping produce fresher, longer.
· Do Not Impede Air Flow- Items like case liner and pop creates work will for appearance, but will stop cool air from reaching produce.
· Crisping- Trimming the “butts” off of leafy greens and giving them a soak in temped water will extend the life and increase freshness for your customers.
· Over Fill- Overfilling a produce display can lead to many issues. Bruising and highly perishable items like berries at room temperature for long periods of time will drastically reduce shelf life. For every hour that a strawberry is out of the 34 to 40 degree temperature range, it will lose 2 days of shelf life.
· Misting- It’s good to make sure that the misting system in the produce wet case is working well and that the nozzles are aimed properly.
· Cleaning- Many times, especially during busy times of the year, deep cleaning will get over looked. “Sludge” build up will cut down on proper air flow throughout a case.
· Signing- It is important to have your department properly and accurately signed and priced. The use of sign systems is a good way to accomplish this.
· Proper Ordering- Take inventory of what is on hand in the cooler and backroom. Write the order on the sales floor, looking at the displays. Knowing what is in the cooler and backroom, having a record of what’s sold in the past helps cut down on any guessing.
· Proper Employee Training- Produce department employees require one to two years to really understand produce. Going through each season will help provide a better understanding of how fruits and vegetables react to various conditions.
· Sanitation Program- In most supermarkets, the produce department is the first department customers usually experience, therefore from a fresh image and food safety standpoint it is vital that all employees adhere to a strict sanitation program.
· The Importance of Color- We shop using all of senses; including sight. The use of contrasting colors is one of the simplest ways to add visual impact to produce displays and make the produce more tempting to customers. Create “wow” displays.
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