The Packer’s Tom Karst visited June 8 with Mike Mauti, managing partner of the consulting firm Execulytics on the Canadian retail perspective during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mauti recalls his journey to the produce industry and the appeal it held for him compared with other departments in the grocery store.
“I think the one defining aspect of produce that you see in some other fresh departments, but not to the degree that you see in produce, is just the shelf life,” he said. “The short shelf life of produce, and so many different elements of the go-to-market strategy, or the supply chain strategy, is focused on that short shelf life. So everything from minimal assortments (compared to some of the other departments) to the size of the displays, the fixtures used to display the product and then everything else down the line, is really focused on satisfying that need for a short shelf life.”
With the effects of the COVID-19 crisis ongoing, Mauti considers the outlook for summer produce sales. He believes many consumers may be ready to splurge a little.
“I think what we might see coming into the summer, is this significant pent-up demand is going to be rushing out to the stores, where maybe people were targeting one weekend or one long weekend throughout the summer to have significant get-togethers,” he said. “I think you might see that much more frequently, and so products that typically sell in the summer, produce like watermelons, cherries or berries, I think they’re going to have an even larger demand than what a normal summer would be.”