(Nov. 27) FILL UP WITH WATERCRESS

Your department could be swimming in watercress sales if you and your customers knew the facts about this crunchy, peppery green that’s available year-round.

In North America, Chinese consume about 60 percent of watercress. They primarily use it in soups and stir-fry because of their belief that it cools the body and brings balance to their system, says Andy Brown, director of sales and marketing for B&W Quality Growers Inc., Fellsmere, Fla.

It’s a popular item for Chinese New Year. But even better are its nutritional benefits. By weight, watercress has more calcium than milk, more vitamin C than an orange, more absorbable iron than spinach, more folic acid and vitamin K than broccoli and loads of potassium, Brown says.

Include that information in your customer communications along with this watercress trivia:

  • Louis IX of France was so taken with watercress and its effects on health that he incorporated it onto his regal seal.

  • Greek generals made watercress a standard part of their armies’ diet for stamina and strength.

  • Hippocrates built his hospital on the island of Xenia next to a stream for proximity to fresh watercress because he believed it purified the blood.


For merchandising success, display watercress next to the herbs. Store it at between 35 degrees and 37 degrees and extend the shelf life by standing it upright in a tray of water.

LEAVE A LASTING IMPRESSION

Gourmet Impression, Nesconset, N.Y., has created a device that allows you to leave a lasting impression on your produce.
The company designed a stamper and roller, two tools that can imprint whatever slogan, name or logo you like into food products. Use them to imprint your store’s name in fresh-cut fruit for fruit trays or when you are demonstrating a product. You also could imprint the flesh of fruits or vegetables when you are donating product to local events as a form of advertising.

GIVE THE GIFT OF NUTRITION

The holidays are right around the corner, so don’t forget to promote nutritious gift options for your customers. Fruit baskets or cartons of fresh citrus offer many opportunities for promotions around these gift-giving times. An ad from Jewel Food Stores Inc., Melrose Park, Ill., uses holly leaves, stockings and bows to give consumers ideas for unique or healthy gift options.

ALL IN THE DETAILS

It’s the little things that count when it comes to sprucing up sales of your in-store, value-added vegetable offerings. This D&W store in Grand Rapids, Mich., adds lemon slices to its packaged asparagus, which gives consumers an idea about what flavors go well with the vegetable.

PISTACHIO ROUNDUP

Make pistachios an essential part of your produce department. A recent study by the California Pistachio Commission, Fresno, found that pistachios are the highest bulk nut contributor to the produce department. The study shows that pistachios contribute an average of 0.7 percent of total produce dollars and that the Western region of the U.S. has the highest category contribution at 0.8 percent. Data for the study were collected from 10 supermarket chains.

The study also evaluated pistachio contributions by quarter, and the first and fourth quarters were consistently the strongest. In January, pistachio volume hit an average high of 107 pounds per store per week, the study says.

In an effort to increase pistachio contributions in the second and third quarters (the lowest quarters for pistachio sales), the commission suggests running promotions at least 10 times a year. Another commission study showed that retailers who ran more than 10 promotions a year experienced good performance in the second and third quarters, with volume sales exceeding the 55-pound per week national average.

CONSUMERS LOOK TO SUPERMARKETS

Consumers still make the supermarket their No. 1 stop for their primary food items, according to a recent consumer poll by the Food Marketing Institute, Washington, D.C., and SupermarketGuru.com.

The consumer survey showed that:

  • Consumers prefer to purchase perishable foods from supermarkets.

  • Eighty-one percent of consumers said they shop at supermarkets for vegetables and fresh meats, compared with 6 percent who shop at a supercenter and 3 percent who shop at a warehouse club store.

  • Although consumers believe they can obtain a better deal at a warehouse club store, it is not translating into a vast consumer migration to club stores.

  • Thirty-seven percent of all consumers said they shop in a warehouse club store less than once a month, while 31 percent said they never shop there.

  • Consumers believe they save more money and receive better value but are tempted to buy more items when they shop at warehouse club stores and supercenters.

  • Consumers expect to save money by shopping at warehouse clubs, but they realize they often spend more than they planned by making impulse purchases.

  • Source: PMA Freshline