ST. PAUL, Minn. — Two Minnesota companies are tearing a page out of the foodservice playbooks of companies like Arby’s and Applebee’s to create excitement in the fresh produce departments in retail stores.

Minnesota companies partner on ‘Pick 5’ promoMinneapolis-based produce supplier Wholesale Produce Supply Co. and Hopkins, Minn.-based retailer Supervalu are asking consumers to “Pick 5” produce packs. The idea is to give consumers value and choice while offering individual retail stores price control and flexibility.

“For the retailer, it offers good variety with mix-and-matches of fresh produce items at a price point they determine,” said Jaime Rodriguez, senior produce merchandiser, on the expo floor at the Supervalu Sales for All Seasons Aug. 13.

Rodriguez said “Pick 5” complements another new Supervalu produce department concept — “Fill it Fresh” — in which consumers can fill a paper bag with any number of produce items of their choosing for a flat price of $15.

“Fill it Fresh is whatever fits in the bag, and it’s driven by availability. The best thing about it, from a retailer’s standpoint, is that when sale items run out, you can substitute different items or end the sale. (The retailer) decides what they offer.”

Consumers benefit, too, because they get the power of choice in making their selections and they get their produce at a value price.

Jennifer Rigdon, who works in promotion and business development for Wholesale Produce Supply Co., said the “Pick 5” program drew rave reviews at the show.

“We’re really excited about it because we came out with a new, universal 1-pound bag and a Harvest Crisp label, so we’re trying to create uniformity in the produce department,” Rigdon said.

Individual retailers can use the bags for any number of produce items, and the bags are not only resealable and feature handles but are part of the “Pick 5” program.

Wholesale Produce is also offering new snack packs of fresh produce as options for “Pick 5” programs. The snack packs can feature anything from grape tomatoes to salad and feature a flip-top to cater to increasing grab-and-go business.

Belinda Holzer, produce manager for Paylessfoods, Mobridge, S.D., said she is impressed with the concept.

“I like this Pick 5 idea. It’s a way to get consumers to buy more things for their money and maybe broaden their horizons,” she said.