Store-level marketing is still the most effective

08/17/2012 09:39:00 AM
Greg Johnson

One example was a sweet corn display with a 2-foot poster of supplier Didier Farms, which is a third-generation, 100-year-old operation in suburban Lincolnshire, which happens to be the headquarters of Vance Publishing Corporation, owner of The Packer.

The Shop and Save store was in a Hispanic and Polish neighborhood, so product catered to those ethnicities.

Brian Holzkopf, produce operations manager at Shop and Save Markets, said his chain’s produce department was the largest contributing department to sales, and having product that appeals to consumers as they shop was a big reason.

The store had an enormous produce department and provided samples of fresh fruit, dips and salsas and sausages.

Prices were pretty low on staples, while more specialty items had higher price points.

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The agriculture story of the year is the drought in the Midwest, which has touched about 60% of the country.

The drought has significantly cut yields on corn and soybeans and raised input costs while creating a short-term glut in meat markets, which will be followed by a shortage, leading to rising prices later this year and next year.

It’s not a happy situation if you like to eat in the U.S.

But it really hasn’t affected fresh produce much. Hail has been a bigger factor in Michigan and Washington, for example. Even with local sourcing becoming bigger, the drought isn’t a problem.

Mariano’s Greco said he’s noticed some local sweet corn has shorter shelf-life and some missing kernels, but then the next load will be fine.

When it comes to melons, Greco said quality may even be up this year, with higher sugars and quicker ripening because of the heat, although that comes with shorter shelf-life.

Local Midwest produce will soon be gone come football season, but at least quality has been good enough for consumers to miss it this winter.

gjohnson@thepacker.com

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