“The fresh-cut program started earlier this year, and we just finished the roll out of it in June,” O’Brien said. “We had to add a little staff because of the extra labor and food safety issues, but it is paying off for us.”
O’Brien said staples that traditionally attracted consumers to Schnucks are still in place, including a focus on seasonal farm fresh produce from area growers.
He said peaches from Eckerts Orchard just across the Mississippi River in Illinois have come in strong this summer and are selling well.
Dierbergs’ locally grown
A commitment to fresh local produce is a key element in another local chain’s strategy for the St. Louis grocery war. Blackboards outside the entrances to Dierbergs 23 stores in the metro area are updated daily with brightly colored fluorescent chalk, proclaiming the number of local fresh produce items available.
The local chain also is upgrading and renovating stores to be more appealing. A $5.8 million upgrade at the 74,000-square-foot Des Peres Dierbergs is in the works, with plans having been filed June 30 in St. Louis County Circuit Court for a 6.1-acre transportation district there. Establishing the district would allow Dierbergs to widen a road and add traffic signals that would make the store more easily accessible.
No matter what the local and regional chains do, though, they are all facing insurgence from large national entities.
Wal-Mart’s grip on the St. Louis retail grocery market is tight, with a 36% share.
It is followed by Supervalu’s 21.3% share.
Target is moving to increase its grocery business in the St. Louis area with its PFresh format. The PFresh stores are midsized and include 40% more food than traditional Targets, including a fresh produce aisle that touts both locally grown and convenient fresh-cut products.