A Washington, D.C.-area foodservice distributor is using a novel approach to help attract customers and increase sales.

Distributor drives 'mobile produce department' to customersLandover, Md.-based Keany Produce Co. sends its Gateway to Gourmet mobile produce department truck on the road to existing and potential customers.

The truck’s racks display a variety of new, specialty, organic and locally grown produce. Keany retrofitted one of the 20 new Kenwood delivery trucks it took delivery of in December into the produce showcase.

Chefs can examine and purchase product straight from the truck or place larger orders, said Kevin Keany, president.

“This is like a supermarket on wheels,” he said. “This brings all kinds of new and fresh ideas to stimulate the chefs’ menus and recipes. It’s a way to get our products out in the marketplace a little easier than giving them a hand-out with pictures.”

Keany parks the truck in a central location and tries to arrange visits to two to three existing or potential accounts during each weekly visit, which normally occurs on Wednesdays, Keany said.

The chefs, Keany said, often bring their teams out to look at the truck’s offerings.

“We invite them to come on the truck and sample all the types of new and specialty produce,” he said. “Chefs report back that they’ve seen others but say this is something they really find really cool.”

Keany said local produce remains the biggest draw. Keany doesn’t stock the truck with staples including potatoes and onions. A large banner that reads “Fresh from the farm by Keany Produce” highlights the produce, which includes stonefruit, apples, berries and sweet corn.

Keany began running the truck at the start of the year.