CHICAGO — United FreshMKT attendees heard from a variety of experts that changing consumer demands must be met by retail and produce companies willing to change to meet those demands.
“Old school doesn’t work anymore,” said keynote speaker Emanuel Lazopoulos, senior vice president of North American sales and product management for Del Monte Fresh Produce NA, June 25 at the Fresh Market track education program of United Fresh’s annual event.
He said the produce industry has great products and just need to fill consumers’ needs.
“Don’t fear clicks and drones,” he said.
Also a panel of legendary retailers capped the day of education, looking at trends and strategies.
Bruce Peterson, former Walmart executive, said retailers must be willing to take risks.
“The crime isn’t making mistakes,” he said. “It’s not trying anything.”
When asked what his biggest mistake was in his retail career, Dick Spezzano, formerly of Vons/Safeway, said since he learned something from all of them, he doesn’t even consider any of them mistakes.
“Take chances and be OK with them failing,” he said.
Spezzano said he thinks fresh produce’s biggest opportunity is in the snacking category.
“I’d make it a section in my store,” he said.
As far as advice for produce suppliers, Reggie Griffin, formerly of Kroger, said they should strive to be the best in their category.
“If you’re the best in your space, you can build a trade brand,” he said.