Become a Business Hero for Your Retailer and Produce Department

Become a Business Hero for Your Retailer and Produce Department

May 13, 2015
Business Skills

The produce department is one of the most important departments of any grocer and accounts for over 10% of total sales in perishables, second only in sales to the meat department.  A bright and inviting produce department sets the tone for the shopper’s experience since it is typically the first department a customer encounters when they walk through the door. 

As a retail dietitian, you can help boost sales in your produce department while helping customers increase their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables – a true win-win for all! 

Promoting Produce with a Plan

The nutrition education opportunity for produce is, well, pretty obvious.  To become the business hero, you need to think like a marketer. Work with the produce manager or buyer to enhance his/her current promotion schedule by creating your own produce marketing plan.  Here’s how:

  • Focus on what’s hot, what’s trending, or what shows the most growth opportunity. Keep your pulse on what’s new and exciting in produce by reading food magazines, and checking produce trade journals, such as Produce Business, Produce News or The Packer.  Next, find out what resources might be available for those items.  For example:
    • Contact the commodity board associated with the fruit or vegetable.  These boards have a wealth of resources for dietitians and may also have extensive resources for retailers. You’re likely familiar with the commodity board’s nutrition and health research information, but dig deeper and find their retail tools. The National Mango Board has an entire section of their website dedicated to retail. Lists of commodity organizations can be found here and here 
  • Find the news hook. Look for natural news hooks to promote these produce items. One of the easiest places to start is to see if there is a national food month that focuses on that particular fruit or vegetable, or a month commemorating all fresh fruits and vegetables.  For example, June is both National Mango Month as well as National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month and September is Fruits & Veggies Month.  Another option is to identify seasonal activities and find the produce link. For example, during a summertime month, focus on grilling and highlight fruits and vegetables that are great on the grill.
  • Plan in- and out-of-store activities. Create events or activities around the commemorative month or seasonal activity, from a feature display to sampling; recipe cards or in-store cooking demos; articles on your website or blog; and media outreach. Consider out of the box activities, such as face painting, live music, or “meet the farmer” events to generate broad interest and draw traffic from other parts of the store. Create or source beautiful and educational point of sale (POS) materials (such as these from the National Mango Board) to drive home key points with shoppers.
  • Get the word out.  Once you have your produce marketing plan in place, it’s important to promote your activities with employees and customers. Ask if you can take five minutes at the store’s manager meeting to let employees know what upcoming activities you have planned. Feature a nutrition message about a produce item or promote your event at the bottom of store receipts. Pitch the local media to have you or the store chef do a segment on in-season produce. Include messages in in-store overhead announcements or radio broadcasts.
  • Document your efforts. Don’t forget to document your promotion success, and package it for the produce manager and leadership. Take pictures, track sales before and after the event, recognize produce team members, capture social and traditional media impressions.  

One caveat: Once you show the success your efforts have had in the produce department, you are sure to be in demand with the other store department managers!