Produce merchandisers love to market commodities into set destination categories. Many like to have certain products in specific places in a produce department. It makes it clean and tidy and manageable. However, does this help promote more produce purchases?

In a word: No.

Even though some retailers like to relegate items to permanent product placement, value-added items should not be limited to the multi-deck case. Customers walk through and around the produce department in a limited scope of time. If you count on impulse purchases (as most produce retailers do), the impulse moment may be lost if there isn’t effective product exposure in the first place.
Here are a few thoughts on the topic:


✔What defines value-added?

I suspect that as the term suggests, value-added is any produce item that eliminates or reduces preparation, is meal-ready, or adds consumer convenience in packaging by combining ingredients or minimizing additional shopping.


✔Value-added importance

In one (very) unscientific study years ago, I concluded that the value-added products, if combined as a single category, made up over 1/3 of the produce department’s sales. Further, the profit margin percentage on value-added is consistently a top earner. Which, when promoted, helps offset the lesser-earning categories and ad loss-leaders. So it pays to push value-added.


✔Value-added is fresh produce

I see produce marketers use the multi-deck case much like the grocery department uses their similar fixtures for dairy or cheese. Many times this translates into tolerating out-of-stocks or general neglect.  Like its fresh counterparts, all value-added fresh produce should be cared for likewise, with frequent attention to stocking, cleaning, signing, and faithful culling and rotation.


✔Find ways to expand the value-added footprint

Do you only merchandise romaine hearts on the multi-deck? Try a secondary display on the wet rack, positioned close to the regular romaine. You’ll find that you sell from both displays and will maximize sales. Similarly, position a secondary cherry tomato display on a shipper-like display near the leafy greens. Have a vegetable soup mix? Place a row or two near the cabbage. A pre-packed ensemble of guacamole fixin’s? So easy to work into or in front of the high-traffic avocado display.


✔Other, winter holiday examples

Consider working the baby carrots on an off-rack secondary display — combine or frame with, say, green beans for a great, attention-grabbing color-break contrast.  Try merchandising prepackaged broccoli & cauliflower florets mixed into off-rack bulk broccoli and cauliflower displays during heavy shopping periods. It won’t necessarily cannibalize either commodity, and in the rush of holiday shopping this will provide customers with extra exposure to multiple shopping choices. Cross-merchandise prepackaged or pre-sliced mushrooms in the meat case.

Build prepackaged bagged lemon and lime displays in the beverage mixer aisle for extra impulse sales. Hang plenty of poultry-ready herb packs off the wet rack and next to or in front of the chicken and turkey cases as well. You’ll cackle and gobble up all the extra sales.


✔For ringing in New Years’ resolutions

Just like Thanksgiving or Christmas, many of the same value-added items will sell for New Years. Try obtaining the mobile refrigerated case (many stores have these available, and can be shared between perishable departments) to promote packaged salads and park in a prominent aisle or lobby space. For the party animals out there, fill the case with pre-cuts such as celery and carrot sticks, party trays, slaw mix, and refrigerated dips and dressings.


✔A lot of value-added needs little or no refrigeration

Remember how value-added is defined. It isn’t limited to refrigerated items. Promote pre-packaged tomatoes, pearl onions, small or fingerling prepackaged potatoes in secondary displays to call attention to and sell more product. Try posting a one- or two-step recipe on a chalkboard with meal-ready suggestions. Busy, two-wage-earning shoppers are eager for meal solutions. Especially if it’s good, and a time-saver.

Value-added produce provides a remarkable service for your customers, all right. It helps them by minimizing the added shopping, the extra work and the precious time they would otherwise spend in the kitchen. The trick is to recognize that value-added need not be regulated to one single run of multi-deck cases. Enhancing this powerful category will help build your sales and your gross profit margin. How’s that for value-added?  

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