Previous Posts

This department is constantly changing, demanding and challenging. Each week, FreshGuru adds in some hidden knowledge gleaned from produce professionals, adding in new press releases or attending industry shows. Encourage the pure joy of fruits and vegetables.



We are in the midst of that seasonal changeover. It takes place gradually but it does follow the seasons. In Vancouver the flowerbeds are already bursting forth while in the Maritimes there still snow that needs to be melted. The tricky part of course is that your shopper doesn’t always know that new seasons mean new products in your fresh produce Department. Baby boomers are already in the know but they may have forgotten over time. While student shoppers and adults entering their 20s and 30s are still

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CPMA fast approaching - early April in Montreal

March 25, 2019 (Montreal, QC) – The 2019 Canadian Produce Marketing Association Convention and Trade Show, taking place in Montreal, Quebec, is only one week away and I’ll be heading there to find out what I can discover to share on these pages. Now if you are in Montreal and active in the fresh produce trade - scroll down as you get get complimentary (that is correct FREE) access to the show.

The following is a snapshot of the 94th edition, taking place from April 2nd to 4th. I gleaned it from their media news center.

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Celery - an essential culinary ingredient

Mention celery to any group of people and most of them will immediately think about their ‘diet’.  Yet celery, while certainly renowned for its low caloric output, is also a marvellous culinary item to have around at all times.

First, it can be consumed raw or cooked, and it’s freezable. As a note, cooking is the only option for use after freezing. Next, there’s the robust nutrient value. Consider that 1 cup (101 grams) of diced raw celery renders only 16 calories, but also offers a total of 15 notable minerals and vitamins.  These important nutrients range

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The Two-For-One Salad Vegetable

A bunch of radish anyone? Stretching grocery dollars is important to consumers, so have a look at what a bunch of radish can offer above and beyond the obvious economics.

GOOD VALUE: As an abundant two-for-one salad vegetable, bunch radish has 2 parts; both are edible.  That’s a built in, value-add. But helping you strengthen your discretionary food dollars, pales in comparison to its other benefits.

GOOD FOR YOU BUT WHY: Look at nutrition. This salad vegetable is a nutrient rich cultivar which can be consumed raw or cooked.  While it delivers small amounts of 13 different minerals and vitamins, from calcium and copper, through Vitamin B6, Vitamin K and magnesium, on down to niacin, riboflavin and zinc, it is also abundant with antioxidants.

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The weekly race for fresh greens  

Salad season stretches out in front of us and the weekly race is on to select the freshest salad vegetables available. 

For leafy greens, there’s usually an abundance to choose from. Most popular is romaine lettuce, followed by head lettuce, then green-leaf, and then on down to the different chicories like escarole, leafy endive, Belgian Endive and radicchio.

The field of choice is further segmented by production type: field grown, to greenhouse produced, hydroponic, and of course, certified organic.

Romaine lettuce is a favourite for a variety of reasons. 

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10 Ideas to Keep Shoppers happy


  1. Arrange to have a stack of extra shopping baskets in your produce department. 
  2. A brief hello to your shoppers – every day
  3. A sincere smile; this goes along with the hello
  4. Involve your shopper

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Testing 12 seconds to buy


Testing: It doesn’t matter how you display fresh produce if the only thing the customer sees is the display asset itself and not the product. However, customers who see natural material rather than cold steel are more likely to buy the product before they move on. Keep a customer in front of a display for 12 seconds and they’ll commit.

Craige W. Harris is an Inspirational Strategic Consultant who engages others in the wisdom of team dynamics. Where he really stands out is his diverse background in fresh retail. His insights into how to increase profitability is impressive. #FreshTips #FGCraige


Twelve seconds to commit


It doesn’t matter how you display fresh produce if the only thing the customer sees is the display asset itself and not the product. However, customers who see natural material rather than cold steel are more likely to buy the product before they move on.

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Breakfast with a twist - ideas for the produce department

Food trends highlight that consumers are cooking against the clock so what can you do in the fresh produce department to help your shoppers?

Cooking on the Clock

  • Breakfast with a Twist: Loblaw’s trend report stated that Canadians want a breakfast that is portable, high in protein and something that can be prepared the night before.

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What happens when a customer calls your store? 

Updated on 07.10.2018 by Registered CommenterEditor-FreshGuru

I’ve been calling down to Pete’s Frootique in Halifax, Nova Scotia and I was put on hold for a bit of time. What a delight - instead of listening to some sappy elevator music or a radio station that is slightly fuzzy I several fresh produce tidbits from Pete himself - well his voice at least.

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So do you like your apples in a 56 size or will a 113 do? 

As a shopper or as a produce manager, have you ever wondered about the size of apples you purchase at your local grocer? Most likely not but it all has to do with the number of apples that fit into a standard 40lb box.

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Do your store signs help you to sell more produce? 

Signs can be ever so useful - they can educate, enteratain, inform, inspire and confuse. Here are some signst that have made me smile, contemplate, or just shake my head and wonder why?

So what is the difference between knowledge and wisdom? Is it as simple as this.


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Share your social media icons with Fresh Guru's Grocery Bag

So you buy, sell or promote fruits and veggies in Canada?  If so please let us know so that we can follow you on our news feeds. 



Fresh ideas spotted at Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s has caught the imagination of shoppers who like treasure hunts. I wandered through Trader Joe’s and came across half a dozen or so ideas spotted in the fresh produce department and elsewhere. Everything from convenience to informative signs to interesting takes on fresh produce items.

You start with the Fearless Flyer. It’s an information packed newspaper magazine that tickles the fancy of anyone who is close to being a foodie. And while sometimes there is a price discount, often the thrill is reading about an item that is just waiting to be discovered by you.

Passing the floral displays, pushing your red cart, you see the red newspaper box with a black and white illustrated pointing finger alerting you to their Fearless Flyer. Right next to that bright red newspaper box were two feature items: #ENVY apples and Cara Cara oranges. The signage on the displays - none of that boring font stuff but fun, creative signs gave out more info.  Check out the upper right-hand corner of the sign: it’s a page number just in case you want to read a bit more. Common sense? Yes but it works. It triggers that crazy impulse that shoppers, who love food, need and creates that desire to have that special item that has been highlighted.

Convenience is the name of the game for many shoppers. In this case it’s Trader Joe’s private-label rice broccoli. As a shopper the words “nothing but broccoli” caught my attention. Many shoppers, including me, are tired of having hidden ingredients. This gives me a vote of confidence to buy this product. Adding the peekaboo window, shaped like a head of broccoli, allowed me to clearly see what was inside. Riced broccoli? Really? What the heck is that. It just sounds good.

Idea: Next up was trimmed leeks where the packaging was designed to highlight the features of a leek in an inviting way. For shoppers not familiar with leeks, this is one way to bring them on board. Personally I like leek leaves as I make my own version of kale chips with them but these were trimmed tight.  But this isn’t about me, this is about bringing convenience to the shopper.

Idea – word choice: Crinkle cut squash, versatile and fun: it just makes you want to reach out and pick up brightly coloured butternut squash zigzags. The sign looks store made but it is easy to read. For the shopper with children this is a great looking item and makes eating veggies fun. For singles and seniors it’s perfect.  Often a butternut squash can be too large for a single-person household but this is all choppped and ready to go.  You really have to know how to use a knife to cut one of these babies open otherwise you could end up with a nasty cut. Now as long as the packaging can be reused and doesn’t end up in the landfill.

Idea – packaging: Talk about making very boring carrots sound like an exotic French-speaking girlfriend that you taking home to meet your mom. They aren’t selling just carrots here but are selling “Les Petites carrots of many colors”. As a self-proclaimed foodie, what I liked was that they were actually real baby carrots - you can see part of the stem still attached. And OMG look at those colours.

Idea – signage: WHOA! Pick up this opportunity buy while it lasts. The sign info is quick and short. There is a sharp price point, a serving suggestion and nutritional info. I bet you this could almost be a Twitter post. As a shopper I love that they highlighted a good deal and made it be easy for me to grab a bunch or two. Nice.


Other ideas: When you walk through Trader Joe’s there are other things to remind you that you’re in a food store - the oversized fork and spoon hanging on the wall, the ever present kitchen station where a morsel or sip is always (and I mean always) being offered up.  Add self-serve juices or coffee that are complimentary. Throughout the store, signage that entertains and educates. And at checkout, a nice perk to the environmentally conscious shopper who brought in their own grocery bag: a chance to win a $25 gift certificate to Trader Joe’s.

With the current dollar exchange rate not being in favour for Canadians, if you shop at Trader Joe’s you pay a premium. In the parking lot every single car, in our row, had Canadian plates on so Trader Joe’s is almost a tourist destination for the foodie.

Would you like to see the Fearless Flyer? If so sent me a note to

Reporting for freshguru on a February 11 2017 Bellingham cross-border shopping trip.


Five Tips to get kids interested in fresh produce

Getting  kids out of the cookie and candy aisle and interested in the produce section can be a challenging task.  Getting them to eat fresh produce at home or school may be even harder.  But here are a few tips to help kids look at fresh fruits and veggies as fun and interesting.

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Wave of Peppers at Sobeys

Sobeys continues to make outstanding displays in their fresh produce department. For the shopper,  this wall looks delightful - a rainbow of colour greets you. With greenhouses sprouting like rabbits across Canada and the USA, you know that you can always get a red, green, orange or yellow pepper. 

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Standing up your Zucks!

Increasing impulse purchase is all about getting the consumer to notice your displays. At this Farm Boy in Whitby, Ontario the zucchinis are all standing tall creating a vertical display that draws your eyes up. You can easily see the shape, length and size of these green boys.


Signage: Ripe When Wrinkled

“Ripe when wrinkled” - what a perfect description.

Atlaufo mangoes are also ripe when soft.

I know you don’t have to eat them wrinkled to be good but at least the shopper will have more confidence in the product if they know that it is edible even if it doesn’t look perfect.  

Educating up the consumer is one way of reducing #foodwaste in North America. 



How old is your apple today? 

Look I know that everyone want to support local produce - I get it. But as I wandered around Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto recently  I’m starting to think that the retailer isn’t given the consumer the full picture. And maybe, we as shoppers, are just too stupid - apples after all are an everyday purchase.

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The colour of red

These are eye-catching tomatoes that I spotted at the Jean Talon market in Montreal. Someone told me that they looked like the nose of Alice the Goon (which I then had to look up on the internet). They are brilliantly coloured and look so very inviting. I would almost use them as part of a table display.

Or better yet serve one whole as a salad. You could partially slice and layern them with cheese and basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and a vinegar.

Oh - don’t forget - do not put tomatoes into the fridge. Produce rock star Pete Luckett is always reminding customers not to do that.