Controlled Atmosphere Storage of Apples and Pears

applesAndPearsAs we move into the new year, most all of the apples and pears being shipped will come out of Controlled Atmosphere storage (CA storage). Prior to January regular refrigerated storage is used for much of the fruit marketed in the Fall and early Winter months. When the proper growing and harvesting techniques are used, many varieties of apples can store for 12 months or longer in CA. Most of these apples are shipped to market between January and September. Read the rest of this entry »

Embrace Failure

missedShotI have set myself up for failure today. The list I made this morning of what I need to accomplish is already on the verge of becoming unachievable. I’m confident I’ll get through about 80% of my list, but that’s a 20% failure rate – not considered good.

However, if I were a baseball player and we were measuring my success rate at hitting the ball and getting on base, 80% would be viewed as phenomenal… I’d be in the record books with an 800 batting average. In baseball, if you hit the ball and get on base 33% of the time, you are considered one of the best hitters in the game. You are wildly successful and will most likely be rewarded with a very handsome and lucrative salary, even though two-thirds of the time that you step up to the plate to achieve what you’re supposed to achieve (hitting the ball and getting on base), you completely fail. Read the rest of this entry »

The Art of Gratefulness

gratefulI tend to write a fair amount about issues – issues surrounding our food system, issues about ecology and environment, and issues we encounter in the workplace. And, as I continue to write the word “issue”, I realize that, along with shining a spotlight in the places where we’re not firing on all pistons… i.e. the “issues”, another part of my job is to shine the light on what is going really well in our industry and where we are making tremendous gains.

The balance is a delicate dance, and one we all do with our own lives. We see the areas where our lives seem to work and where we feel happy, and we are also aware of our own personal issues and areas that fall short of our expectations. Read the rest of this entry »

Have a Green Christmas!

Having grown up in a Jewish family, it’s fair to say that I’m really not much of an expert on Christmas. But since the holiday does involve a bit of agricultural input, I was interested to know if there were actually any farms that raise organic Christmas trees. My research led me to a couple of websites (see links below) providing some pretty solid tips for those interested in an environmentally friendly Christmas. And as for the trees… yep, there are definitely organic options. Following are a few fun facts about Christmas trees (real ones) in general: Read the rest of this entry »

Thanksgiving – More Than Just Giving Thanks

Next Thursday is the big day, and the food will certainly be flowing. Most of us working in the organic and natural foods industry will see one of our best weeks of sales coming from this week. We are clearly reminded of the bounty of food that exists in our country. Yes, we are truly fortunate. But sadly, that “we” does not include everyone. Many Americans will not be experiencing the bounty of a Thanksgiving feast. In fact, some Americans will have nothing at all to eat on Thanksgiving Day. Imagine having no food to eat on Thanksgiving. Pretty difficult to imagine, isn’t it? Now, imagine that many of those who will go hungry on that day are children. It’s almost as if your mind doesn’t want to go there. And yet, that is our reality. Read the rest of this entry »

The Gift of Service

customerServiceIt’s easy to talk about the importance of customer service. Most of us say that we understand that the customer comes first. We all get it. We all understand it. And yet, it’s not always how it plays out in reality.

I think we would all agree that when we are of service in any capacity, we are sharing our better selves. To be of service to another means that at the moment we are helping them out, we see them as the most important person in our life. We don’t judge them; we don’t see them as an interruption to our work; we don’t see them as annoying or too chatty. We see them as an opportunity. If we are serious about providing the best customer service, then our best shot at achieving this aim, is to begin by making sure that whatever the needs of the person we are interacting with, become what’s most important! We must exceed their expectations and create an experience for them that they are not expecting.

Being of service is a gift, but the true recipient of that gift will ultimately be you. The best way to know if you did an excellent job helping someone out is when you walk away and you realize that you feel energized from the interaction. Sure, by all appearances you helped them, but it’s the one who performs the service that gains the real benefit – the benefit of sharing our better selves. Read the rest of this entry »

Thanksgiving Retail Tools

ThanksgivingSignThumb2013The weeks leading into Thanksgiving are about as crazy as it gets in the world of retailing food. The week leading into the big stretch should see a pretty significant uptick in both traffic and sales at your store. To assist you with the upcoming onslaught, we have a few Thanksgiving merchandising tools that we offer each year that are typically very well received and used with excellent success.

There are 3 tools that we offer that you can download; print out; and have ready for your store:

1) Thanksgiving Favorites Signs – A PDF file containing 11 signs of “Thanksgiving Favorites” with QR codes to make shopping easier – reminding shoppers of some of the key holiday items that they’ll want to make sure end up in their shopping carts. By using these signs, you will be featuring and promoting some of the strong items that you will want to move this holiday season. Click on the image to the right to download the PDF file. Read the rest of this entry »

Winter Squash

Download Squash ChartAlthough the Winter squash season extends from August through March; they are at their best during the months of October and November. What a relief the cooler months of Autumn and Winter provide for produce display-making. No doubt, the lusciousness of those summer fruits are certainly missed, but working with product that is durable and has a long shelf life is a pretty nice break for a few months. Apples and citrus will take center stage during the Fall and Winter season, but particularly during October and November, don’t let the opportunity of promoting Winter squash slip away. Not only are they delicious, but these squashes provide some excellent nutritional value as well. Winter squash are very strong in vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), as well as an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber.

A large, mixed, bountiful display of hard squash is one of the more beautiful sights in a produce department. Because of how well they hold up while on display, it’s easy to have that large abundant look in your department. These squash tend to sell quite well during the next several months and particularly well leading into the Thanksgiving holiday. Take advantage of this time now to be introducing your shoppers to the different varieties and become educated about the different flavors of the various squashes. How they taste, what sort of texture they have, and how to prepare them are perhaps the three most common questions asked about the hard squashes. Click Here or on the image above to download a chart to assist your customers with their squash selection.

Good luck with your squash sales this season. Enjoy.

Setting and Achieving Sales Goals

calculatorTypically, early in the week you will receive your department sales numbers from the previous week. In some cases you may even find out at the end of the seventh day of the week after running a register report if you happen to be working a late shift on Sunday.

How you manage and respond to your weekly sales numbers is a critical part of the job of a produce manager or director. There are basically two approaches to weekly sales reports. One is to eagerly await the numbers, hoping that they will prove to be strong and perhaps you will receive accolades for a job well done. The other approach is to actively participate in the outcome of your numbers throughout the week. Read the rest of this entry »

Apples or Pears?

applePearI love apples and pears. Of all the amazing varieties of available fruit there are to enjoy, these two stand out as my favorites. Even during the summer months when the luscious soft fruits emerge, I still like a pretty heavy dose of apples and pears. It’s a tough call as to which is my favorite, but if I was forced to choose between them, I believe I would give a slight nod to pears. Knowing whether you’re an apple person or a pear person may actually reveal a little bit about who you are. In the same way that the question “Who was your favorite Beatle after the group split up”, is in some circles considered a pop culture litmus Test; you can certainly get a slight glimpse into someone’s being simply by knowing whether they prefer apples or pears. Read the rest of this entry »