Elite produce managers share secrets to success

05/15/2012 04:49:00 PM
Pamela Riemenschneider

Pamela RiemenschneiderProduce managers recognized by the United Fresh Produce Association's Retail Produce Manager Awards talk about best practices in the produce department during panel at United Fresh 2012 in Dallas.DALLAS — From being the name and face of the produce department to making suggestions for dinner, these produce managers know their business.

A select group from the United Fresh Produce Association Retail Produce Manager Awards winners shared their strategies at the United Fresh Marketplace Learning Center May 3.

For Brian Langdon, produce manager for the Kroger Co., in Cincinnati, Ohio, running an excellent department means keeping a watchful eye on the shelves.

“We do freshness checks several times a day. If we wouldn’t sell it to our mother, we won’t sell it to you,” Langdon said.

Being an outspoken advocate for the store is key for Steve Kaminski, produce manager at Jewel-Osco in Westmont, Ill.

“Introduce yourself to your customers,” he said. “Let them know that you’re there for them. I want them to know that I am their produce manager.”

“Consistency is very important,” said Rich Jackson, produce manager for Quality Food Centers, Sammamish, Wash. “Customers want to know they can come in any day of the week and have the same quality.”

Being actively involved in the community also helps promote customer loyalty.

“I’ve had a chance to get out to schools and speak to kids, and at churches and in the community” said Brian Corbitt, Bel Air Market/Raley’s Family of Fine Stores, Sacramento, Calif. “It helps out a lot.”

Corey Conrad, produce manager for Colemans Food Centres, Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada, agreed.

“We even invite kids into stores and give them a tours just to get them to see and experience what is new,” said Corey Conrad.

Steve Lutz, executive vice president of Nielsen Perishables Group, Chicago, moderated the panel discussion. He asked participants what effect the recession has on their shoppers.

“People are shopping ads, doing some cherry picking,” said Brian Collegnon, Rueben’s County Market, Hartford, Wis. “If you can put related items next to it, you can increase sales. That’s the secret.”

Coleman Food Centre’s Conrad said he likes to spend one-on-one time with customers, helping promote items that are higher price along with the sale items.

A video presentation of the panel discussion is available on United Fresh TV.



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