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New Initiatives in Fruit and Vegetable Retailing


Up until recently, the retailing of fresh produce followed mainly traditional practises. Fresh produce is normally sold at or near the entrance to a supermarket – a reassurance that an essential part of the shopping is right at hand. There is an increasing use of fridges to ensure the freshness of the products and help extend their in store shelf life. Merchandising was traditionally done by hand, with consumers selecting individual products themselves by hand. Convenient packs and the use of crates to display produce are becoming increasingly popular. However, there are new approaches to fresh produce retailing being trialled in different parts of the world. The aim is to make in particular fruit an easy alternative to sweet and salty snacks.

Healthy Checkout Lines

In West Virginia in the United States, Walmart and Foodland with the encouragement of the local health authority introduced one healthy checkout line in each of their stores. Instead of the usual selection of sweet and savoury snacks offerings at checkout, fresh fruit and juices were displayed. The initiative proved popular with consumers, in particular mothers with small children. The stores reported as much as a 30% increases in the sales of some fresh produce lines. In addition, Wal-Mart also sold active toys in the same area including skipping ropes and balls.

In the UK, discounter Lidl carried out a 10-week healthy-till trial and revealed that 70% of shoppers now prefer to see healthy snacks at the supermarket's tills.

The strategy, which was introduced as a trial back in January with one till installed in each of the retailer's 600 UK stores, replaces all fatty and sugary treats at check-out tills with bags of fresh fruit and juices. The retailer says it has now doubled the amount of healthy tills to two per store, following positive customer feedback, and will continue to add more if demand continues to grow.

Vending Machines

In the US, it is becoming increasingly popular to sell fruit and salads through vending machines. A considerable amount of work has gone into the design of the machines to keep the products in their freshest possible state, and deliver them to the consumer unbruised. New school regulations and workplace initiatives are targeting vending machines amid larger efforts to combat obesity and reduce health-care costs and absenteeism.

The new machines have two temperature zones. The top is loaded with bananas kept at about 14 C. The bottom zone—kept at about 1 C holds packages of fresh-cut fruit and vegetables. Having the two zones helps more than double the shelf-life of bananas, from two or three days to five days or a week.

Padding in the retrieval bin and along angled side walls protects delicate fruit from falls from the upper shelves, a tumble that can be as long as 4 feet.

Source: BordBia - New Initiatives in Fruit and Vegetable Retailing