Maximum specialties, minimum risk

01/02/2013 10:25:00 AM
Armand Lobato

You don’t need the Chinese New Year as a reason to pump up your specialty produce. But it’s as good an excuse as any. Many chains use the event as a fulcrum to expand interest in specialty items.

A clean, well-stocked produce department is a draw for the entire store. What helps to make a produce department excellent is consistently offering a wide range of fresh offerings. Some of the most eye-catching selections can be found in the specialty produce displays.

Even though some produce managers think specialty offerings creates excess shrink, an expanded specialty produce section can actually generate extra sales because it conveys the impression of abundance — variety and selection at its best. This can more than offset the investment. Here are a few tips to recharge your specialty sections without sacrificing gross profit dollars.

In one produce director’s words, “It doesn’t cost — it pays to pump up the specialty produce program.”


Identify destination sections or points to display

click image to zoomspecialty produce 10-minute merchandiserPamela RiemenschneiderChinese New Year is a good time to introduce some new favorites in the specialty produce category. Most specialty sections already exist. It’s your job to see the potential within each one to enhance the displays. Begin with the root section on wet case, the tropical section on tables, the herb section, the mushroom section, and the tomato or chile set. If all you’re carrying is the minimum requirements, it’s time to reassess and sharpen the ordering pencil.

For example, look at the mushroom display. Bulk and packaged white mushrooms? Check. Portabellas? Check. Is that it? Redraw your schematic, using your order guide to help out. Try inserting several varieties for the bulk sets: White, crimini, ports, and perhaps try a couple that you don’t currently carry, such as shiitake and oyster mushrooms. On adjacent shelving, make room with your packaged whites for some added varieties. Some managers opt to use this space for varieties other than what is available in bulk, such as lobster, enoki, or matsutake varieties. Don’t forget dried mushrooms — talk about a safe investment. One shelf should offer all the dried mushrooms available.


Reassess the other specialty sections the same way

Introduce a few items at a time in each area. Add extra mango varieties into the tropical-specialty set; display some horned melons or gold kiwi to stir things up. In the root section of the wet rack, bring in some celery root or black radishes — items that many of your customers may not have heard of before.

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Cervando Torres    
Corona, CA  |  June, 07, 2013 at 10:43 PM

Thank you for all you do for all the produce mgrs. of all the supermarkets of the world. Hope to meet you at the FPFC in Anaheim CA.

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