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With peak strawberry season almost here, retailers should be thinking about how to best maintain their cold chains to keep sales and bottom-line profitability at a maximum, and shrink to a minimum.
That’s the message from strawberry expert Dan Crowley, sales manager for Well Pict Berries, based in Watsonville, Calif. “We’ve done scientific studies to measure how the temperature of the berries is kept throughout the process from harvest to store, and we’ve found that the cold chain typically breaks down at store level,” he tells Progressive Grocer.
In a perfect world, all grocers would be able to maintain the ideal temperature for strawberries -- 32 degrees -- in storage with cold air curtains, Crowley notes. In fact, he urges retailers that are remodeling or building new stores to think about factoring in such perishable storage space. “It comes with a higher energy cost, but this is more than compensated by the impact to a retailer’s bottom line with increased berry sales,” he says.
In addition to considering temperature-controlled storage space, produce managers should be well versed in their stores’ customer flow and product movement, so that they plan and organize their displays accordingly, Crowley advises. “You have to build up your display when you know the foot traffic is coming,” he points out. “And once the display starts looking old, it’s time to replace it with new product.”
Cascade displays are a great way to catch consumers’ eye appeal, he adds. And when it comes to pricing, maintaining an aggressive price point throughout the season is ideal, since irregular promotions may drive sales one week, then leave retailers with excess shrink the next week.
At the end of the day, strawberries have built-in star appeal, including their high antioxidant level and other coveted nutrients. Retailers that plan well and take into account the highly perishable nature of this popular fruit will stand poised for selling success, Crowley says.