Tuesday, June 9, 2009

In today's push to cut costs and drive sales many retailers have opted to purchase and retail binned fruit. This is a fabulous idea! Your tonnage can increase by 100% - 400% easily. A bin has four sides (frontages) and the more sides you have available for the shopper to choose from will increase the amount of shoppers that can pick from the bin at the same time; increasing hourly tonnage and sales. Ensure your retail signs are placed in the center of the bin and raised up, not on the sides of the bin where customers will block your signage. Adding a little descriptive like "Fresh", "Super Sweet", "Produce Manager Recommends" doesn't hurt either, just make sure your being honest or you will lose customers.

It's a bit of work but as the fruit in the bin goes down it's wise to transfer the remaining fruit to another empty bin that has been "dummied" up with empty boxes and is CLEAN to keep your sales constant and you will reduce your shrink. Not many shoppers want to purchase fruit that is at the bottom of the bin, but on top of a dummied bin is another story. Your product will rotate quicker and therefore be fresher. Happy customers and a happy store manager.

Also if you have extra floor space its a good idea to put out some dummied bins to push excess stock, key items, and high profit items. You will be a star...btw many of the key positions (like V.P.) in grocery chains are held by former produce managers. Produce is the hardest division to manage period.

One of my gripes about buying bins of fruit from big name packers like Dole and Sunkist is how they charge us the same price for binned fruit as fruit that has been individually boxed. What a ripoff! The cost of binned fruit is much less and packers will usually offer whatever size and quality they have excess stock of in these bins (a few grocery chains demand a certain size and grade always). Don't get me wrong Dole and Sunkist have excellent quality and world class reputations but binned fruit is cheaper and allows you the option of passing on some of these savings to your customers.

If you're willing to compromise on a few different sizes you will lower your costs as much as 70% compared to the cost of boxed fruit. Usually give the buyer a 3 size range and advise them to buy whatever is being offered at the best price at the same quality standards you're used to. Buying on Friday afternoons will also save you a lot of money because growers, packers, and wholesalers don't want produce sitting in their warehouses all weekend.

There are so many packers offering binned fruit today that is of excellent quality, you can pick and choose. My suggestion is to have these guys email you pics of whatever they have to offer the day you're buying. If they can't produce any pics (everyone today has a digital camera in the office to take pics for claims) I'd say you should stay away from that lot.

For example I would normally pay as little as 10 - 17 cents/lb for extra fancy grade apples in bins by adapting to my 3 size range method (plus freight if you're out of town) while chains were paying 60 cents/lb for the same quality.

Lots of gross profit to be made by a smart produce manager which means bigger bonuses. Last bit of advice is to be sure you dig down to the bottom of the bins when receiving to ensure no one has pulled a fast one.



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