Independent produce retailers appear to be resurgent, based on the quality of their offer to consumers.

For years anybody who has been involved with FMCG has known about the challenge of the “last 10 yards“, the distance between a supermarkets back dock and the selling face. Retailers talk about out of stocks, and lost sales, suppliers struggle with short lead times, demanding delivery schedules and the lack of accurate and collaborative forecasting.

Added to these are these challenges presented by fresh food, perishability, appearance, consumers determination to handle and “cherry-pick” the produce, and the nightly put-away. The major supermarkets would appear to be losing share to resurgent independents, as they have responded to the supply chain challenges with greener fruit, more resistant to damage, and offering a longer period to maximise the opportunities for sale. Downside is that green fruit is not much good to eat.

Produce is a difficult category where training and product knowledge is more important than in any dry grocery category by a mile. Why then are there casuals in produce? Last week I saw, not for the first time, a seventeen year old tipping a box of tomatoes onto a display like they were Lego bricks, surely some training would be useful? In this case, it was the last 10 inches that stuffed the tomato. 

No wonder specialists who know their business, and can manage the challenges particular to a category are doing a better job than generalists, and consumers are responding.