Our old friend Yoda said it best. “Do or do not. There is no try.”

I think about this when walking through produce departments in different chains when I travel. In particular I think about Master Yoda’s quote when I take a critical look at cut fruit sections.

I like to say (about this and other marketing philosophies) that, “In theory, this product line is so convenient and appealing it should do great!” Then in the same breath I say, “But in theory, so should communism.” 

And we all know how well that works.

Cut fruit programs have tremendous potential. Imagine the busy working mother at the end of a long day who just has to grab a cut-up melon or berry tray. Picture a stressed office worker who zips in at lunchtime and treats themselves to a healthy parfait cup filled with fresh-cut fruit. This is how it’s supposed to work, right?

What I see all too often isn’t quite what retailers had in mind for this concept.

I see (especially in midday or early-evening shopping trips) the refrigerated cut fruit endcaps shopped enough to qualify what many people call a “tired” display. I see cut melon products sagging and marinating in the “purge,” watery liquid within the container. 

I see cut fruit sections with sticky shelves, or with long-neglected spills within. I see too many examples of decaying berries, discolored fruit or smashed grapes. I see aged cut melons on the shelf that should be discarded and replaced

Worst of all, I overhear hurried clerks say things to one another like, “This section’s OK. All the pull-by codes are good.” Yikes.

Again, a good produce manager must train clerks to think and to view what needs to be done, using their own “customer eyes” and asking: Is this section clean, neat, culled and properly stocked with our best? How often should I return to give it a good straightening and facing? Do we have enough back stock to make it through the day or should I alert the prep crew or produce manager?

Cut fruit sections can be a dynamic selling point in a produce department. The chains I’ve seen that do incredible jobs on these are usually also mentioned as the top grocery chains in lists called out regularly in trade publications.

This is because these chains are committed to doing things properly, never taking shortcuts, and never sacrificing labor for the quality of product that is offered for sale. 

To me, cut fruit sections are definitely a do-or-do-not endeavor. Either you invest and make this a section appealing to your customers and build your fresh produce image, or like, Yoda says, “Or do not. There is no try.”

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