Any seasoned grocery store manager will tell you that produce shrink is one of the most vexing problems they deal with on a regular basis. But what is produce shrink, and what can we do to fight it?
Simply put, produce shrink is the product that goes to waste when it is not sold. What may be surprising to those outside the world of waste is that more than 14% of produce ends up getting thrown in the trash due to lack of sales. Exotic fruits and vegetables are even worse, as they are discarded at more than five times the rate of other items. While some level of waste is expected, a good store manager should always be on the lookout for ways to keep waste down and income up. Try out a few of these strategies:
1. Crunch the numbers
Since produce is at the greatest risk for shrink, its inventory should receive the closest level of attention. Track the sales of each item electronically and, if one looks as though it is falling behind, start a sale to move the merchandise. Also, when trying out new products, start small and only grow after you see some success. With attention to detail, you will find yourself moving a greater percentage of your product.
2. Think outside the box
Rather than simply throwing away old produce, try to find ways to monetize this product before its worth and value becomes obsolete. Sales are one way to go, but there are a range of solutions that can work just as well. Customers love samples, and while they might not bring in any direct sales, they will certainly leave taste-testers happy and potentially pique interest for future sales. Incorporating fresh fruit into packaged salads or food bar items will add a bit of variety to your offerings and won’t cost you anything extra.
3. Storage matters
Perfecting the methods of storage of both you and your shipper will reduce waste by increasing the shelf-life of your products. Keep produce chilled in the store and ensure a flawless cold chain during the shipping process from start to finish. Exotic fruits are the most important in this regard given that their shipping time is longer and their risk of product shrink is highest. Aside from temperature, try to avoid overstocking produce, as crowded shelves lead to dropped or crushed items that no one will want to buy.
While product shrink is inevitable, utilizing these three strategies can minimize the problem and reduce waste production markedly.