click image to zoomThis is a good example of proper backroom handling. The lids have been removed, and the plastic pulled back. Then the pallet ties are alternated to allow for good air circulation, thus allowing the banana heat to dissipate and allow for optimum color-control.How does the average produce department manager regard the top-selling produce item? He takes it for granted.
Often under-regarded, nothing else in the produce aisle requires anywhere near the same amount of preparation and care as bananas. On the same token, no other item consistently sells so well either. According the The Packer’s 2013 Merchandising Guide, bananas lead all produce categories, providing nearly 6% of a produce department’s sales.
Here are three areas to focus on with bananas, to ensure you are doing everything possible to maximize sales and care for this No. 1 produce item:
Ordering & Receiving
Bananas are sold according to a color range from stage 1 (solid green) through stage 7 (full yellow with brown flecks). Typically retailers strive to have stage 3.5 to 4.5 on display: fruit that is breaking from green to yellow, to full yellow with green tips.
Order only enough until the next delivery: This maxim is true when ordering all produce items, but especially so with bananas. The easiest thing to do is over-order bananas, thinking you will need ample safety stock. However, all it takes is a couple of days of slower-than-anticipated sales, or consecutive days of overripe fruit, and the excess inventory can quickly back up and create a problem. Consider also, if you get backed up on overripe fruit, banana sales plummet.
Know the rotation: Always rotate new deliveries using the FIFO method (first in, first out). Note: Bananas can be an exception to the FIFO rule. If newly arrived fruit comes at a riper stage, always push the riper fruit first to minimize shrink.
Storage & Handling
Avoid temperature extremes: Bananas are subject to problems if stored too cold (chill damage discolors the skin) or too warm. Always store bananas in a cool but not cold area (58 F, or 14.4 C, is ideal).
Handle with care: When handling bananas, take care to avoid damaging the fruit. Even dropping a case just six inches can cause bruising and shorten banana shelf life.
Heat advisory: Bananas continue to generate their own heat following the five-day ripening cycle at a shipping or distribution center. Immediately upon arrival at the store, release this heat and vent-stack to slow the ripening. To do this, remove the banana carton lids and pull the packing plastic back, then air-stack the cases, alternating case ties on the pallet to allow for greatest air circulation, which will help dissipate the heat. Work quickly, but always handle the fruit with care.