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Monday, October 24, 2011

The Wall Street Journal meets “Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Veggies”

Imagine my surprise when I picked up The Wall Street Journal last Thursday, October 20th and found that the entire front page of the Personal Journal section had a drawing of the produce department.

Entitled “A Food Fight in the Produce Aisle,” the article quotes a few of our supermarket clients and talks about what a popular destination the produce department has become in American supermarkets.

I often write about my favorite fruits and vegetables and occasionally I write about important trends affecting our food choices. But, what was so interesting about this article is that because our nation has become more focused on fighting obesity (thank you, Mrs. First Lady Michelle Obama), it seems as if the produce department might have some new neighbors in your local supermarket.

Think about it. Have you noticed when you go into your local store, how different food items are now near the front of the store? Last week I was in St Louis visiting some Schnuck’s Markets (a family-owned, regional supermarket company), and noticed that the front wall of some of their stores have portable foods. You know, single serve salads, sandwiches, healthy beverages, milk, cut fruit and veggies. It sure was easy to grab my healthy lunch while I was there.

And in Southern California, I’ve noticed my local Albertson’s market has a whole section of “healthy and convenient” foods, plus fresh fruit juices, etc., right inside the door of the market.

That’s what this article talks about. Packaged food manufacturers who produce cheese, juices and other “non produce” items have realized that so many shoppers are spending more and more time shopping in the produce department, that they want their own products located nearby.

Well, obviously, the grocery stores cannot rearrange their entire store to have every department close by produce… Unless of course they make their store circular and put produce in the middle. (Actually several chains have tried this with mixed results.)

But, as you make your regular shopping trip to the market, look up from your cart. You’ll notice that the location of your favorite products may have changed. Supermarket executives know that time is the most important commodity to all their shoppers and they are trying to adjust the layout of their stores to be more “shopper friendly.” That’s why most markets have coolers filled with bottled water and other beverages nearby the checkouts.

Well, you might be asking yourself, “Why are the bananas usually at the back of the produce department?” That’s because supermarkets know that bananas are often the No. 1 most purchased fruit. They know most shoppers, if they have to walk through the entire produce department to get to the bananas, might find a few other produce items they want to purchase.

I encourage you to read the entire article here. It will give you some insight into the “behind the scenes” work that is always happening in the supermarket business.

Enjoy your next shopping experience!

Karen

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