I wasn’t sure what to expect from this year’s Produce Retailer of the Year, the revamped annual award from The Packer’s sister publication, Produce Retailer.

In the past, we’ve honored a single person who embodies an organization’s commitment to produce excellence.

Target's PFresh hits the mark

Pamela Riemenschneider
Aisle Wandering

This year, we called for nominations based on an organization as a whole. As editor of PR, I received five times more nominations than last year. Whether that’s a testament to me nagging our readers or their enthusiasm for the award, I’m not sure — I’ll take it either way.

The nominations were passionate, articulate and all tremendously complimentary to the retailers they represented.

Out of those, the nominations for our winner, Minneapolis-based Target Corp., stood out.

Target’s commitment to the improvement of its fresh produce is easy to see in its implementation of the PFresh program.

PFresh adds about 100 stock-keeping units of the most commonly purchased perishable items to the retailer’s general merchandise stores.

I took a walk through the PFresh store near the retailer’s headquarters in downtown Minneapolis. This urban store probably would not be my first choice from which to pick up a quick meal, but from the hour or so I spent lurking near the department, I appear to be in the minority.

It was shortly before lunch time, and I saw shopper after shopper pick up bananas, bags of carrots, salad and clamshells of grapes.

Target is adding produce to its general merchandise stores by following the Trader Joe’s and Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market model.

It’s all about unit price. Cashiers don’t really need to know too much about Price Look Up codes, have scales or deal with the “messy” side of produce. Target even has 19-cent bananas, just like Fresh & Easy and Trader Joe’s.

There are no wet racks. There really weren’t any bulk bins. This store basically had one reefer case and one table — that’s it.

It may not seem like a lot when you think of a single reefer case and a single table, but multiply that by 700 stores and you’ve got serious volumes.

Read the Produce Retailer Q&A with Annette Miller, Target’s senior vice president for grocery merchandising, in our October issue and see an exclusive slide show of the department on ProduceRetailer.com.

E-mail pamelar@thepacker.com