MONROEVILE, Pa. — Retailers gained new merchandising tips and learned how they can make their supermarkets stand out from their competitors at the 12th Supervalu Eastern regional produce and floral expo.
Sponsored by the Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Supervalu Inc.’s Pittsburgh division, the show was characterized by another year of record attendance as nearly 500 produce merchandisers, buyers, suppliers, grower-shippers and others packed the Monroeville Convention Center for the April 3 show.
“The advantage of coming to a show like this is the many ways we can learn how to package and display products,” said retailer Christopher Anthony, co-owner of Country Harvest in Palmerton. “We like the show and like to see the different merchandising techniques. If I learn just one thing I can take back to my store and execute, I will consider the trip a success. Being in a rural area in the Poconos, we don’t see a lot of this.”
Colleen Bing, a produce manager for Plum Street Foodland in Parkersburg, W.Va., said she learned merchandising ideas.
“Seeing all these products really help us better visualize things before ordering,” she said. “You don’t usually get to see all these items before ordering. This show also gives you good ideas on how to properly display things.”
Exhibitor Alan Siger, senior advisor to Coosemans Worldwide Inc.-owned Consumer Fresh Produce Inc., in Pittsburgh, said the show provides an educational process to buyers and sellers.
“I’ve seen a nice flow of visitors all day,” he said April 3. “The show really gives you the chance to spend time with the retailers and shows what Supervalu has to offer. They get to learn about different items.”
Returning to their operations with effective merchandising ideas is one of the show’s goals, said Mario Grana, director of produce and floral category management for Supervalu’s Pittsburgh division.
“We really try to focus on training, education and selling with the first two objectives the most important,” he said. “We believe it’s critically important because if we can do all those things better than our competition, you guys and Supervalu wins.”
Grana said keynote speaker Erik Wahl, a “graffiti motivational artist,” helped encourage participants to try to differentiate themselves in the marketplace by thinking differently and presenting solutions and opportunities to their customers.
“As owners and retail operators, how can you tap into a wealth of new ideas and creativity and innovation to transcend the commoditization of what has that potential to become the fresh produce industry,” Wahl said. “Defy your competitors and ultimately use this time of political and economic uncertainty to go on the offensive and to brand your supermarkets a category of one.
“This will mean the breaking of business as usual, breaking outside of foodservice and retailing and breaking outside our traditional comfort zones.”