Archive for 'Supermarket – produce'

In a Chinese Supermarket – Part 2

This is what greeted me at the entrance of the supermarket:

5+ A DAY!

How about that for promoting fresh produce?


 This fruit carousel also had grower information on display.

Signage was a mixture of pre-printed and handwritten.


  Going fishing supermarket style!


In these supermarkets, fish on ice is considered 2nd grade product.

The Nonsense Continues

I had the weekend edition of the NZ Herald sitting around on the dining room table all weekend, pondering whether I should add my 5 pence worth to the article entitled Fruit, vege bargains at supermarket in theweekend edition. Then I sat down to watch the 6 o’clock news tonight.  First up –the milk price again. The Minister of Agriculture, David Carter,  now suggests that a Parliamentary Select Committee should investigate milk prices.  The CEO of the Consumers Institute made ridiculous comments on camera about a “secret manual” she alleged Fonterra uses to set milk prices and a TV One reporter found that supermarkets sell 2 litres of milk for $3.60 compared to $5.20 at a dairy and $5.60 at a service station. Doh.  Oh really?  Ah, there is a story that has gone off the rails.  That does not fit the intended direction –because we all know its supermarkets which engage in price gauging right?  Carter, luckily for him, was interviewed on Q & A this morning, rather than in the evening.  His “I never buy my milk at the supermarket and I would encourage consumers to shop around” wisdom therefore went unchallenged.  Let’s get some of the facts straight.  Supermarkets are in the volume business which works really well for them with processed food; milk for example.  Milk will always be cheaper in a supermarket  than in a dairy or service station, so please stop wasting time during the news bulletin and instead report the real issues we want to hear about.  When have you last seen a super market chain advertising  milk or bread at special prices or even as a loss leader?  The answer is “you have not” as it simply does not happen. The same goes for eggs by the way. They could, but they typically do not!  Accusing supermarkets on price gauging on those products is therefore an exercise akinto shooting oneself into one’s foot!  Back to the Herald’s fruit & veg story.  At a time of extreme shortages, you can rely on supermarkets to exert pressure to keep the prices down. Not because they want to be good citizens but out of self interest.  They have worked out a few years back that consumers have a pain threshold. When cauliflower prices go beyond $3.99 per head retail, consumers pull the hand break.  Tomatoes at $20 is pipe dream territory of unheard proportions.  Food & Grocery Council CEO Katherine Rich also has a thing or three to learn about the fresh produce value chain, judging by her comments in the NZ Herald story.  Of course, the produce will be fresher at a farmers market – if it has been locally grown and is being sold by the grower himself.  And of course, supermarkets are subject to greater controls and attempt to offer produce of greater uniformity.  And where do we think the produce supermarkets does not buy disappears to, hm? Whilst it is great that we as a society are focusing back on the basics, i.e., the quality and availability of our food and its price, there is a lot of nonsense being talked out there and the sooner that changes the better.

In a Chinese Supermarket – Part 1


Bananas pop up the world over.

Pictured here are locally grown Chinese ones.  The red tape prevents the customer from splitting the hands to suit themselves, leaving those single bananas that are the bane of a Produce Manager’s life.

I did not wait around to see if the display would be replenished as it needed to be…

Behind the bananas was this “bin” of nectarines.


I was intrigued to note the wide size range and the presence of foliage.  This suggests to me mechanical harvesting and minimal grading.

One could also say the condition of the leaves is an indicator of the freshness of the fruit.


These apples are a local variety – quite a pretty pink en masse like this.

To put things into perspective, that price equates to 87 NZ cents!  Overall, I found China to be relatively cheap.

Moving on, the deli counters were right next door to the produce department:



No, I have not strayed into the pet store.  Yes, those are live turtles and frogs.  How else could you be sure that they were fresh?


The bulk foods area was also near the produce and displayed in a fashion far more open than I am used to seeing back in NZ supermarkets.

Then I went past the shellfish counter…



Being kept waiting at the checkout can be the last straw for a busy shopper.


This blue line is the solution:  if there are customers behind this line of blue tiles, then more checkouts are opened – immediately.

Now, here is something I often say should still be seen in NZ supermarkets: the fresh produce weigh station.


Discerning shoppers the world over choose their fruit by look and feel.


 This also could be any supermarket in the world:



Signage varies around the store and I noticed that some nutritional information is starting to appear.

When is a tomato not a tomato?

When it thinks it is a strawberry, of course!

Or so the labelling on this punnet would have you believe…


It was the first time I had seen this new variety packaged by NZ Hothouse, proudly on display at Farro’s so naturally I had to buy some to try.

Well, I have to say they didn’t taste like strawberries, so maybe the name has something to do with their shape.

So – novelty impulse purchase with the potential to be a regular addition to the tomato range that’s now available on the supermarket? 

I don’t know, but I was curious enough to look out for them when I next happened to be in a “mainstream” supermarket, in this case a Countdown, but they weren’t to be found.  Did this mean that they are still a niche enough offering to be available only to the gourmands who frequent the specialist food stores or was I simply in the wrong Countdown?

They’re selling our fruit here

I travel half way around the world, and what’s the first thing I see upon entering a supermarket in Rotterdam?

This was during the industry tour mentioned a blog post or so back – so I was in the company of other IFPS members from countries such as the US, Canada, South Africa, and Chile.  They were extremely envious and wanted to know how I had managed to get the display put there just for the benefit of the tour!  Much as I would like to think I have that much influence in the global produce industry, I had to come clean and admit that it was all Zespri’s doing.  This image is a wonderful example of New Zealand’s success in the international produce industry.

I have discussed Zespri in previous posts, and say what you like about them (and Turners & Growers have had a lot to say) regarding the single desk position they hold over New Zealand’s kiwifruit exports, but you cannot deny that Zespri is extremely effective at selling kiwifruit for value added prices in the very competitive international market.

Question is, can Zespri’s success be emulated in other New Zealand produce categories without single desk structures and government regulations?