Harmons and Sendik’s Food Market dedicate a lot of resources to their fresh-cut produce programs and continue to see sales results, the retailers said during an NGA Show panel Monday in Las Vegas.
Harmons, a 16-store retailer in Utah, makes $2 million a quarter in fresh-cut sales, and the category represents 1.8% of total-store sales, said Bob Harmon, VP for the customer, Harmons City.
Harmons offers a wide range of fresh-cut products from “superfood trays” complete with a nut-butter dipping sauce to fajita mixes to fresh salsas and half-cut cabbages all in 96-to-112-foot displays.
In addition to traditional fresh-cut fruit, hummus and salsa, Milwaukee-based Sendik’s has been adding more fresh-cut vegetables to its merchandising mix, including squash, jicama, carrots, celery and Brussels sprouts.
“We’ll sell bulk Brussels sprouts for $2.99; we sell them in this package cleaned up a little for $5.99,” said Ted Balistreri, owner of Sendik’s Food Markets.
Customers, Harmon said, feel that certain fresh-cut vegetables are less wasteful for their smaller households.
Not counting juice and hummus, Sendik’s offers 118 fresh-cut items, and Balistreri expects to add a dozen more in the next year.
Both Harmons and Sendik’s have on-site cutting areas with associates dedicated specifically to processing these products.
“It used to always be in the back room. We’re actually putting it right out front where the customers can see,” said Balistreri about the cutting area.
Harmon sees the open cutting areas as having a food safety benefit.
“I think one of the reasons we have it out front and center is that the customer can actually see what’s happening and the employee also knows they're being watched. And I think that kind of check and balance is really good,” he said.
Panelist Ross Foca, president of East Coast Fresh, said he's observed many retailers in California move from cutting in-store to centralized cutting in response to labor costs increasing with minimum wage laws.
Harmons and Sendik’s keep shelf life as short as possible for these fresh-cut products, with Sendik’s cutting for the same day and Harmons keeping a maximum three-to-five-day sell-by date, usually donating the product to a food bank before the expiration date.
“The customer will know immediately if that cucumber has been sitting out there for a couple of days,” said Balistreri.
The panel was moderated by David Orgel, SN’s Executive Director of Content.
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