Did you know that 30-40% of the US food supply is wasted? There are many reasons for food wastage, but one common cause is produce that expires on the shelves. Small shops in particular find it difficult to prevent expired produce because they have much lower turnover than the big supermarkets. However, careful planning can drastically reduce the amount of expired fruits and vegetables on display. Here are four top tips that small shops can use to keep from selling expired produce.
Mark Down Old Produce
When customers pay full price, they tend to seek out the freshest produce on the shelf, which leaves older produce to sit behind and get even older. Encourage shoppers to pick fruits and vegetables that are nearing their expiration date by slashing the prices on those items. Set up a special area for marked down produce so bargain buyers can find it easily.
The key to keeping a fresher stock of produce is syncing supply with your customer’s demand, and an excellent way to do that is to tighten up your inventory. You want to keep only what will sell before it expires on your shelves, so use inventory management software to track what items are selling quickly and what items are lingering around. This helps you know when to rotate food, when to order more, and when to put soon-to-expire produce on sale for quicker turnover. Donating produce that is getting close to the sell-by date but is still edible can also earn your shop a positive reputation in your community and draw more customers.
Use Local Suppliers
Sourcing small amounts of produce from local farmers is a particularly effective strategy for small shops. Choosing a nearby source means you can leave those fruits and vegetables on the vine until you need them. Many customers are also happy to pay a premium for high quality produce at the peak of freshness, so the higher cost of sourcing small batches from local producers is easily recouped. If you do use local suppliers, make sure to advertise this as it is a highly desired by consumers and will increase customer loyalty.
Stock Fewer Varieties
Variety is the spice of life, but too many choices means that customers leave the least desirable products on the shelves. Only stock the most popular produce varieties like bananas, carrots and lettuce so that fewer items are left sitting on the shelves to expire. You should also rotate varieties for the seasons. Watermelons and peaches are great in the summer, but pumpkins, berries and apples take center stage as the weather cools. Market what will be in season in advance so your produce sells faster once its in stock. For year-round produce, use periodic sales to boost customer interest.
Remember, you can’t prevent expired produce entirely. The most important thing is to cull any mushy or spoiled produce from your shelves. You can repurpose produce that’s past its prime as food for birds or other wildlife. Another great way to reuse it is to turn it into mulch for your garden.
Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.