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Eight ways to spruce up the produce department

Fruits and vegetables could use some merchandising help, too

It’s the heart and soul of the grocery store. But the produce department often falls victim to indifferent merchandising.

“Produce is an excellent opportunity to highlight the natural, appealing qualities of the merchandise,” says Melanie McIntosh of Vancouver retail consultant Inspire Retail Solutions.

Produce managers should spend more time staging their produce, McIntosh says.

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By presenting the produce in the most attractive way, you can make it look more luscious, fresh and tempting.” Here’s how.

1. Black shelving or edging provides contrast with brightly coloured produce, enabling items such as peppers and carrots to “pop” off the shelves.

2. Put complementary colours next to each other, such as alternating red and green apples and peppers. Or place purple eggplants next to yellow beans. The contrast allows each item to stand out, while simultaneously creating a visually appealing rainbow of colour.

3. Emphasize texture. Placing produce with different textures (leafy, rough, smooth, etc.) beside each other showcases variety and draws shoppers closer.

4. Get rustic by replicating the experience of a farmer’s market through the use of props such as wooden baskets. These can evoke a “fresh-from- the-earth” feeling in shoppers, while making your produce section feel more personal and local.

5. Merchandise value-added items together. For example, pre-packaged cubed squash next to its farm-fresh counterpart offers time-pressed consumers a convenient alternative, says Mimmo Franzone, produce and floral director at Longo’s in Toronto.

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6. Use lights that highlight the natural beauty of produce. For example, spotlights can really help fruit and vegetables shine.

7. Put complementary items beside produce. Cheese is a natural accompaniment to grapes, says Franzone. Placing pie shells next to fresh berries also adds appeal.

8. Create a striking, unexpected focal point for the eye. Some stores have a banana tree complete with a monkey. The Country Grocer in B.C. has a tractor in-store. “A quirky display can attract attention and has a light-hearted, humorous appeal,” McIntosh says.

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