Boosting Produce Sales

The Lempert Report
November 12, 2013

Whole Foods has a new ratings system based on several factors.

Whole Foods Market is raising the bar when it comes to produce. Everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to flowers are now labeled as “good, better, or best,” to help shoppers make more informed choices.

It's a new ratings system that is based on a science-based index measuring supplier performance on sustainable farming issues, such as: pest management, farmworker welfare, pollinator protection, water conservation and protection, soil health, ecosystems, biodiversity, energy, climate, and waste recycling and packaging. Further, ratings also certify suppliers on Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Protected Harvest and Demeter Biodynamic standards.

Not only does this system guide the shopper, but it's also a clever way to trade shoppers up to higher-rated purchases. Supermarkets that offer information and help guide the consumer navigate choices, especially when it comes to nutritious produce, will win over today's shoppers. So how else can stores make produce less complex and more appealing?

Here are a few ideas:
• Don’t group all oranges, apples, peppers and other like items together. Rather, physically segment by “good, better and best.”

• Any fruits that are labeled “refrigerate after opening” should be merchandised in a refrigerated display.

• Display fruits and vegetables by attributes. For example, group items that are rich in antioxidants or come from the same country.

By grouping as such, retailers can more prominently display premium items—such as the honey crisp apple rather than the McIntosh. The look and aromas of the better products make a stronger impact, and breed a higher product familiarity for shoppers. Such carefully displayed produce efficiently guides shoppers to what they want, but also encourages shoppers to try new produce and perhaps upgrade their choices. A win-win for everybody.