Sustainability with produce logic
Welcome to my new site. It is my hope to educate the farmer, retailer and consumer in the ways of produce. What is good, what should change in order to satisfy the consumer with high quality produce, retailers the profits they desire and of course the farmer so he may thrive and provide the produce we desire and sustainability well into the future. I will also provide market updates for the upcoming weeks for growers and retailers as it pertains to supply, demand and pricing. I have provided these updates for over 20 years and I apologize in advance for some redundancy which will be necessary to get some new followers up to speed. The new followers may want to check my articles and postings from the last several years as well as my biography and resume on linkedin.com.
All of my posts are a very short and easy read in order to stay in Linkedin’s 1300-character rule, which is also the main reason I started this blog. Sometimes big ideas need more explaining than can be accomplished in 1300 characters.
Brief synopsis. I started selling produce on the streets of NYC over 40 years ago. I have been in every aspect of this business from grower to consumer. I have lived in several different countries. My core belief is that the retail produce paradigm is broken and needs to be fixed for the benefit of all. Educating the grower to the consumer to the realities of the other’s details and expectations, I believe will help move the process along.
I will discuss some of the following in further detail in the future but some of the things that hit me as “that’s not right”
Organic produce packed in a plastic container or bag? Buying cut produce you are taking home. For example, ¼ of a watermelon cut in a container that is the same price as a whole watermelon? Do you hate your money?
Retailers trying to sell you their produce online but when you go into their stores the displays are not appealing or have poor quality produce or both. Lastly #sustainability is a word that everyone like to use but what does it mean to you? I believe for consumers it may be good for the farmer or good for the environment both are not the case. For the retailer it’s a word that makes you feel good about shopping with them but when it comes to produce sustainable is only for them. For the grower sustainable means selling their crop and God willing make a profit. This will be the focus of this week’s Sustainable Produce Logic.
Produce is not manufactured, you can’t turn on and off the switch when you need more or less, it just keeps on growing until it stops.
This is the main reason marketing produce is unlike all consumer goods, it’s a commodity just like gold the price, supply and demand fluctuate. Unlike gold the moment it is picked it starts dying. This is a true supply and demand market. I used to tell salesman “ as the price is going up or going down it’s also going rotten, physical delivery of a perishable item. If you can sell that you can sell anything” There are natural ebb and flows in the produce growing cycles. There are times of low supplies usually followed by high supplies and demand follows conversely. Growers need to sell their crop when the prices are high, and supplies are low, usually never an issue. They also need to sell it when prices are low, and volume is high and low demand. Now 40 years ago, before retail supermarkets dominated the retail landscape, we had a solution.
Instead of 1 super center we had hundreds of stores that pushed the items in high supplies and usually sold them at a discount. Consumers also purchased more of these discounted items and this kept the product moving. 40 years later retail chains operate on a few premises.
1) Consumers will not buy any more of a particular item so why drop the price. I believe they are partly correct. In our grab and go society they may be right. Most people don’t cook the way we did many years ago. I believe there is an opportunity to educate consumers to be better customers and feed their families beautiful produce for less. This would also be a Segway to omni channel retail produce. I also believe the chains that provide value pricing will capture more of the retail produce business.
2) They buy much of their fresh produce at fixed pricing then work on 40% to %400%. Yes, they do work on that much margin and blame shrink. Shrink is what they loose in their displaying of produce. I would argue their shrink is a direct result of their ridiculous pricing model. They buy fixed pricing because they don’t like the inherent fluctuation of the produce markets or don’t see the endless advantages to themselves and their customers. Growers like to sell retailers because they pay more not less which is passed down to consumers.
3) They write their produce ads 3 to 6 weeks away to save on advertising costs but missing the opportunities for themselves, growers, consumers and profits. So, tell me what are you doing 6 weeks from today? What will the weather be? Cold? Hurricane? Retail chains want produce commitments 3 to 6 weeks out because they save on advertising costs. That’s right not produce cost advertising costs. No one can predict 6 weeks out, not even yours truly. There is real opportunity here to offer consumers the afore mentioned heavy supply produce items at a reasonable cost which should increase demand and provide value for consumers and profits for retailers and growers. Furthermore, when supplies are heavy in the produce world it means quality is usually outstanding which means costumers get perfect produce at a discount not ugly or misfit produce at a perceived discount.
Now for this weeks market report
RED PEPPERS Demand exceeds supplies. We are finished in Northern areas and moving to Coachella. Sizing in Coachella is on the small side but hopefully will increase next week. This market should stay HOT until after the holidays. Mexican elongated reds should start by the middle to the end of the month.
GREEN PEPPERS Finishing in Ga starting in Florida and in Coachella. Market remains on the high side for at least one more week.
EGGPLANTS Volume increase in Mexico but demand quickly came in and took this market to steady from falling. I expect it to continue up into the holidays.
GREEN AND YELLOW SQUASH Market is depressed too many no demand.
CUCUMBERS – This market seems to have settled into its new lower pricing.
ROMA TOMATOES This market was coming off but now has stabilized
AVOCADOS -The only way to describe this market is extortion! The prices were too low, so some “people” blocked the roads to get prices higher, they succeeded. It is only a matter of time before other countries become a factor in the avocado business and Mexico loses some of their business to their now yearly antics. This is the reason I am tirelessly perusing Colombian avocado program.
Lastly some cold weather is heading to Georgia this weekend. I guarantee 1 thing. No matter what someone will cry we lost everything and the market on squash and cucumbers will rise. DON'T BE FOOLED. The pipeline on these items is full and more product has been picked in the South and Mexico. If there is a real problem it will show up 2 weeks or more later. Don't let the greed and hype fool you, remember pigs get slaughtered!
Well I hope you liked my first blog and I hope you will share it with all of your friends and collogues. Feedback good or bad is welcome. I can always learn something new from an opposing view.