In today’s best-in-class produce merchants careful attention is taken to ensure the uniquely delicate storage criteria for each produce item is offered whenever possible to ensure optimum freshness, quality, and flavor. Retailers generally benefit in numerous ways by modernizing departments to become more customer-centric and product quality focused through the use of mix of appropriately refrigerated cases and dry ambient fixtures. Here’s some thoughts you should consider:
Shopping Experience: A comfortable shopping environment is a core tenant for best-in-class retailers. Offering a shopping experience near normal room temperatures ensure customers can shop with limited distractions. Businesses can develop a reputation for being uncomfortable. Customers may express, “The music is so loud”, or “It’s freezing in there.” Don’t give customers a reason to shop somewhere else. Approximately over 2/3 of all grocery purchases are impulsive. This infers the longer guests stay in the retail space the more likely they are to add additional items to their basket.
Temperature Zones: The spectrum of fresh produce from tropicals to hearty greens has diverse temperature and humidity needs. While berries may thrive below 40 degrees tomatoes suffer significant degradation and flavor loss. Refrigerating bananas can contribute to chill injury and impact ripening. Addressing the unique requirements to keep each item in optimal freshness demonstrates your care and attention to your offering. The greater culinary experience and success your customers have with your products the more likely they are to return. Addressing these requirements in the retail environment can silently demonstrate to customers your expertise in the fresh produce industry or allow for fun and friendly educational conversations with guests which communicate your concern for the flavor and freshness of the items they will later enjoy at home.
Dehydration: The process of dehydration not only creates less desirable wilted dark greens, lettuces, or peppers it is also impacting your profitability. Significant water loss happens with continual air circulating over the surface of your produce. For items commonly sold by weight each water drop is money lost from your pocket. In the produce business this is called, unknown shrink. It’s the weight loss between receiving the product and selling it that you can’t charge for and it impacts your gross profits. Retail crisping procedures combined with modern refrigerated systems offer precision misting capabilities. Shelving in refrigerated cases can also be set in manners to limit water loss. Limiting dehydration in-store promotes longer shelf life once produce items arrive in customer’s homes.
Food Safety: A cold environment can create a false sense of security. A refrigerated store’s temperature is often set at a median level as a balance for all varied items in stock. This generally means a temperature too high for items of potential food safety risk and too low for items benefiting from ambient temperature. A wholly refrigerated store is typically at a temperature above recommended requirements for dairy items, fresh-cuts, bagged salads, fresh juices, etc. Employees may be unmotivated to quickly stock incoming loads to proper areas if they feel false security in the environment. A high risk item like cut melon held out of proper temperature for hours will become unsafe to eat potentially causing food-borne illness. Without the proper temperature zones, retailers must limit their product mix to items they can safely sell, which may also limit financial opportunities or meeting their customer’s needs.
Grocery Items: In today’s world retailers generally benefit from offering other key items beyond their focus. For produce retailers dairy, meats, cheese, and dry grocery goods add incremental opportunities. However, refrigerating items such as olive oil solidifies products creating poor presentation and likely buyer hesitancy. Consider and research how refrigeration will impact the product integrity of all items you are retailing and merchandise accordingly.
As you can see the numerous benefits to zone refrigeration in combination with dry ambient fixtures offers a tremendous benefit to customers. This approach can limit food safety concerns, improve produce quality & freshness while simultaneously creating a more comfortable retail environment your guests will enjoy. Why not give your customers more reasons to shop more frequently in your store!
Discuss this approach with your trusted local refrigeration advisor today.