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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
  5. Find the answer
  6. Talk to children at their own level
  7. Repeat, pause and repeat if necessary
  8. Pick up after your customers.
  9. Kiddie carts keep children busy
  10. Open their bags.

Arrange to have a stack of extra shopping baskets in your produce department.  Many consumers plan to purchase only one or two items but if you have an eye-appealing department you know that you can trigger that impulse want to buy button that so many shoppers have (including me)!

A brief hello to your customers while you are stocking the shelves and while they are browsing creates a positive environment.  People are more likely to buy from a place they feel welcomed in.

A sincere smile to the customer generates a feel good feeling. Just don’t bare your teeth too long. You don’t want to look like an attack animal!

Involve your shopper: A simple question like, “What are you using those carrots for?  (A quick peek in their basket will tell you want to ask about.) There is a good chance you will discover a new idea of how to use that particular produce item. This can only create a stronger bond between the customer and your store.

Find the answer:  Your shopper asks you a question you don’t know? Someone knows that answer – take a moment and go ask someone else. If all else fails ask for the customer’s number and tell them that you will call them back with the answer. And then do it.

Talk to children at their own level: If you are talking to a child get down to their level. Ask them what their favourite fruit is or what apple do they like best.

Repeat, pause and repeat if necessary If a customer asks you a question you don’t understand, repeat back the question in your own words and see if you are speaking the same language. 

Pick up after your customers. If the apples come tumbling down when your customer reaches for one, get in there and pick them up before they have a chance to. They’ll love you for not seeing their mistake.

Kiddie carts keep children busy and creates a strong family feel in your store. If you don’t have kiddie carts consider a simple pennant that can be attached to existing carts.

Open their bags. See a customer struggling to open one of those plastic bags for veggies? Offer to open it for her. Senior citizens will be especially appreciative of this.

May 2018




CFIG Gives Grocers Valuable Learning Opportunities

Every spring in Canada there are several grocery shows that provide a valuable learning experience for an grocery store owner-operator. Aside from the trade show booths, which gives you a great opportunity to connect with some your suppliers and learn about new products, I find the workshops and business sessions are well-worth attending.

From April 23 – 24, 2018, the Grocery and Specialty Food West Show took place in Vancouver, BC. This show is produced by the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers or CFIG for short. They also have an autumn show in Toronto. To learn more about the CFIG visit this link. The attendees, over 2,500 strong, enjoyed some of the best possible weather that Vancouver could have offered up - blue skies, flowers bursting forth, warm breezes and majestic peeks of snowcapped mountains.

I managed to stop in for a couple of the workshops. Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s president Ron Lemaire did an insightful workshop on merchandising ideas and programs to grow your fresh basket. Mark Petrie, CIBC capital markets gave an overview of the Canadian grocery market and the challenges and opportunities. Matthew Diamond and James Fraser of Mosaic provided some ideas on how to approach the customer in the new environments that exist. Giancarlo Trimarchi of Vince’s markets shared some best practices social media 101 to a packed house. Katie Martin of the Gourmet Retailer/Progressive Grocer magazine gave an excellent presentation on the meal kit phenomenon that has been taking place across North America. I will be sharing show insights shortly.

Canadian cheese was well represented at the show and I spoke to many of the participants asking how they like to serve fresh fruit with cheese. There is a natural affinity to having green red or black grapes or freshly sliced tart apples offered along side certain cheeses. Not only can provide a taste contrast, but it is also a nice way is to cleanse the palate, for another delicious bite. I’ve seen some great displays at store level where fresh cheeses are displayed with fresh fruit.

Walking the show can be a bit overwhelming as you look at all the condiments and relishes, beverages, baked goods, canned goods, grains and pulses, snack foods and specialty items. Then add on items like display cases, store fixtures, wire shelving, uniforms, trade publications, pallets and container, lighting, and so much more that one needs to run a successful store. Great ideas can be found and borrowed for your own retail outlet.

Prior to attending the show I downloaded their app - it was a great tool to know what was taking place when. What I liked best was that that app was streamlined and did not try to be too much. I found it very functional.

Enjoy the full gallery here:  slide show




Team Canada’s silver-winning hockey players to play CPMA Half-Your-Plate Hockey Classic and 3-on-3 Tournament in Vancouver 

The Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) and the BCPMA (British Columbia Produce Marketing Association) along with players from Team Canada’s silver-winning women’s hockey team will be facing off at the Half Your Plate Hockey Classic on Tuesday, April 24, 2018  4:00 pm to 7:00 pm at the Britannia Rink, Vancouver, BC.  

Canadians and hockey, just like healthy eating and exercise, pair perfectly. For the fourth year, CPMA will host the Half Your Plate Hockey Classic. The goal of this event is to raise awareness for healthy eating and the Half Your Plate message while fostering a friendly rivalry among the industry.

This event is part of the  annual CPMA Convention and Trade Show which takes place in Vancouver April 24 – 26th, 2018 at the Vancouver Convention Center. It is in Vancouver every 4 years.

Half Your Plate Hockey Classic Game (BCPMA vs CPMA)   •  5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

There will be a two-person Olympic advantage an each team will include either Meghan Agosta, Brianne Jenner, Emily Clark and/or Blayre Turnbull.

Little Potato Company 3-on-3 Tournament   •  4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

New for 2018, we’re introducing a 3-on-3 tournament sponsored by Little Potato Company followed by the “big game.” The 3-on-3 tournament will have quick 10 minute games with pond hockey rules.

Where: Britannia Skating Rink (adjacent to the Britannia Community Centre)

1661 Parker St, Vancouver, BC V5L 4XE

When: Tuesday April 24, 2018, at 4:00 – 7  p.m.

Media representatives are invited to attend to watch the tournament. CPMA is pleased to assist members of the media to coordinate interviews or photo/film shoots, and encourage journalists to make arrangements ahead of time by contacting:  

Or Vancouver contact: Chris Yli-Luoma Cell: (+1) 778-288-5494 or chris @

About the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA):

Based in Ottawa, Ontario, CPMA is a not-for-profit organization that represents a diverse membership made of up of every segment of the produce industry supply chain who are responsible for 90% of the fresh fruit and vegetable sales in Canada. CPMA is fortunate to represent a sector that is both a significant economic driver for communities and that also improves the health and productivity of Canadians.

About the CPMA Annual Convention:

The Annual Convention & Trade Show is CPMA’s keystone event and Canada’s largest event dedicated to the fruit and vegetable industry. A unique forum for industry leaders to enhance their business opportunities in Canada through an exceptional combination of education and networking opportunities. The show attracts over 3000 participants from all segments of the produce supply chain and showcases produce from around the world.


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. 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


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. They suggest that you think cook-and-cut sheet meals and the inclusion of non-traditional breakfast proteins like chicken, seafood and beans. What comes to my mind: Breakfast smoothies! With so many people using protein mixes think about the extra add in - Kale, fresh berries, papayas, freshly cored pines all come to mind.
  • While scrambled eggs in a wrap is great, you can take it one step further by adding fresh spinach. Just suggest that to your shoppers.  Warm eggs will actually wilt the spinach pretty quickly and it all helps to get the half-your-plate message out!
  • Claire Tansey, Writer, Chef and Loblaw Food Council member notes: “Canadians think they don’t have enough time to cook, but the fact is, every meal doesn’t have to be Instagram-worthy. Breakfast, for example, can be as simple as scrambled eggs in a wrap, which takes less than five minutes. I want to challenge Canadian’s assumptions that they don’t have time to cook. Cooking can be fast AND really delicious.”



Culling, trimming, restocking - sound familiar? You must work in a fresh produce department! CPMA free registration for April 25th and 26th show

Are you often stocking shelves and wondering how that Mexican cucumber arrived or why the asparagus is coming in from Peru? Did you ever want to know how to sort avocados or how you can make a better display? If you work in fresh produce and are in Vancouver BC on April 25th and 26th you will want to attend this show. Exhibits, learning workshops, handouts and much more! 

Normally it would cost $300 to attend but, because you are part of what makes Canadians healthier, you can register for free! Take advantage of it today. To get your free registration please click here

The Annual Convention & Trade Show is CPMA’s keystone event and Canada’s largest event dedicated to the fruit and vegetable industry. A unique forum for industry leaders to enhance their business opportunities in Canada through an exceptional combination of education and networking opportunities. The show attracts over 3000 participants from all segments of the produce supply chain and showcases produce from around the world.


The 2018 Convention and Trade Show will take place in Vancouver at the following location:
Vancouver Convention Centre
1055 Canada Place
Vancouver, BC  V6C 0C3


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.
Some growers in other countries sell different configuation of boxes so it does get a bit more confusing if the box is, say, a eurobox, but the sizing will still be the same. But the actual count or number of apples in the box will be different if it is not in the standard 40lb box.  This visual from the Washington State apple site gives you a better idea of the sizes.
So a 56 is super large while  a 113 will fit nicely into your hand.  There are plenty of rules and regulations as to what apples are permitted into Canada and size is one of them. Often smaller apples will end up in value bags.  Or a store might just offer one size of apple to keep a consistent look and feel to their display.

Apple Sizes Graph

Young Canadians lead the charge to a meatless Canada

BCPMA Healthy_Chef 2017 #bcpmaHC17 Vancouver-060 Younger Canadians are going meatless, but Canada still has a love affair with meat, according to a Dalhousie University study. This photo is from the BCPMA Healthy Chef Competition. (Photo/BCPMA) Sylvain Charlebois, Dalhousie University

Canadians love meat. Many of us have been dedicated to our favourite protein source for years. But other sources of protein are emerging as potent alternatives to animal protein.

Demand is up for vegetable proteins like pulses, as well as for fish and seafood.

Loblaw has even started selling cricket flour, apparently trying to take insect consumption mainstream.

As a result, some believe vegetarianism and veganism may be on the rise in Canada. Not so much, it seems.

Click to read more ...


The Chilean Fruit Exporters Association and Produce Marketing Association to Collaborate More Closely

Memorandum of Understanding sets the stage for growing partnership

Press Release: The annual celebration of the produce industry, PMA Fresh Summit, was marked by another celebration: the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA). Representatives from both organizations signed the agreement during a ceremony held at the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association booth on Friday, October 20.

The signing of this MOU represents a growing partnership between PMA and the Chilean fresh fruit industry.  Providing numerous opportunities to collaborate, and share information and expertise, the MOU sets the stage for:

Working together to provide valuable knowledge to members through events, industry publications such as Simfruit, and direct communications.

Connecting the members of the respective associations.

Providing opportunities for ASOEX to serve in volunteer leader roles with PMA.

Working together to provide valuable knowledge to members through events, industry publications such as Simfruit, and direct communications. 
Connecting the members of the respective associations. 
Providing opportunities for ASOEX to serve in volunteer leader roles with PMA. 

Working together to provide valuable knowledge to members through events, industry publications such as Simfruit, and direct communications. Connecting the members of the respective associations. Providing opportunities for ASOEX to serve in volunteer leader roles with PMA. 



Chile is the largest fruit exporter in the Southern Hemisphere, accounting for 59% of fruit exports from that region. North America maintains dominant market share of Chile’s total global fruit exports, receiving roughly 845,000 tons, or 34% of all fresh Chilean fresh fruit exports. 

Ronald Bown, Chairman of the Board of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association states, “It is imperative that we continue strengthening and adding value to the Chilean fresh fruit industry. Not only does it provide the North American market with important counter-­‐seasonal fresh fruit supply, the fresh fruit sector also contributes significantly to the economy of Chile. Working with an industry leader like PMA gives our members additional access to the information and resources they need to stay competitive. At the same time, our experience will add to the work being undertaken by PMA in Chile.” 

In November, Mr. Bown will join the country council of PMA in Chile. The council is comprised of leaders from PMA member companies. It helps PMA build value for Chilean members and address industry issues.

PMA continues to strengthen its presence in Chile. They recently hired Andrés Rodríguez to be the association’s new representative in Chile and hosted new events in the country. PMA has also published new online content for members in Spanish.

“The importance of Chile to the global fresh fruit industry is undeniable. This MOU demonstrates PMA’s commitment to both enhancing the benefits we can provide to the fresh produce industry in Chile and sharing our expertise for mutual growth,” said Nancy Tucker, PMA Vice President of Global Business Development. “We look forward to working with ASOEX to connect members with ideas and insights to grow our industry and increase demand for fresh fruits.”

About Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) 

The Chilean Fruit Exporters Association is a non-profit entity representing Chile’s fresh fruit growers and exporters.  Our membership base consists of exporters who grow their own fruit, as well as traders of fruit from third parties.  Together, they represent around 90% of all fresh fruit exported from Chile.  For more information about ASOEX, visit

About Produce Marketing Association (PMA)

Produce Marketing Association is the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. PMA helps members grow by providing connections that expand business opportunities and increase sales and consumption. For more information, visit


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. 



Signs from FreshSt, Fareway, Kits Market, SaveOn Foods and more.

Do your signs create a reaction with your shopper? These are some signs we spotted at various retailers that either made us smile,laugh or learn a little tidbit about fresh produce. A few of these signs just assured us that you don’t have to be boring to communicate with your staff.

Click to read more ...


PMA’s Fresh Summit with SUPER FOODS PERU

What conjures up in your mind if I say Peru? What about its fruits and vegetables? I was invited by the PMA to cover the opening of PROMPERU’s (which stands for Peru’s Export and Tourism Promotion Board) booth at the PMA Fresh Summit 2017 in mid October in New Orleans. They were unveiling the SUPER FOODS PERU brand.

I’ll be looking for fresh produce from Peru as I wander into Canadian grocery stores. And, depending on the time of the year, there is quite a bit to choose from. Peru has been working hard on increasing their profile.

The PROMPERU booth showcased pomegranates, mangos, blueberries, grapes, avocados, asparagus and mandarins. The booth was attractive, brightly coloured and offered up plenty of hand outs.

Click to read more ...


Fresh Summit PMA 2017 New Orleans

Did you know that the fresh produce world actually has their own conventions? This week, October 16, 2017 I’m heading down to New Orleans to see what is happening on the exhibit floor and at the various educational workshops.

The PMA #freshsummit is North America’s largest show that attracts produce buyers, merchandising managers, wholesalers, retailers, various groups and organizations.  And, if you are running a produce department or walking through one as you pick up a few items, you must often wonder where it all comes from. Well the movers and the shakers are there all week. Deals will be cut, new items introduced, campaigns announced - they won’t all be for Canadian grocers but lots will trickle across the border.

Here’s a flashback to the 2013 show.

Click to read more ...


Roasting Chestnuts in December

Autumn is in the air Chestnuts are starting to appear in the stores but unless your shopper is a seasoned kitchen pro, there’s a good change that they will grab a ready to go package of chestnuts already cooked and peeled. With a little bit of encouragement  you can have them picking up bags of chestnuts. Right now this display, while looking great, does little to educate or motivate me. They must figure out that I know what to do with these nuts.

Click to read more ...


5 Tips to get kids interested in fresh produce

Here are a few tips to help kids eat more fresh produce

Click to read more ...


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. 

Click to read more ...


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.


Taking advantage of free social media: Kiwifruit

As a fresh produce retailer there are several groups that will help promote your store at no cost to you. The only thing you need to do is to ask them to include your banner in their materials. Here is one example -  if you offer up New Zealand Zespri kiwifruit you can get your store banner listed on their website.  

This info is lifted directly from there: 

Click on your region below to see the list of retailers carrying Zespri® Kiwifruit. In stores only while supplies last. If you can’t find Zespri® at your local retailer, please ask the produce manager if they can order for you.

So what should you do - well if you are selling this brand send them an email and ask to be included:

Contact Zespri at

Check out the link:



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.

Shoppers forget that Canadian and USA apples are harvested in September, October and early November. And yes there are some that come out as early as August but that is just a small amount. The harvest seasonis easily lost when the shopper is standing in front of a counter that is offering anywhere from six to 25 varieties.   And if you have old eyes can you can barely read the PLU (price look up) sticker! 

Click to read more ...


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.


Fiddlehead season almost over

Fiddleheads, so named for their resemblance to the coiled neck of a violin, are a delicious wild vegetable that can be foraged throughout most of North America in the early spring.    By the time the maple and oak trees have grown their full leaves, it is likely too late to find them. They like moisture, so are generally found near rivers and lakes.

These tasty little sprouts are the very first edible shoots of the Ostrich fern, (although Bracken and Lady ferns are also edible, they are not as tasty – usually what you will find in the markets are Ostrich ferns) and similar in taste and texture to asparagus or artichokes.  They should be picked while the sprouts are still tightly coiled. 

To harvest, snap the head off by hand, about one to two inches above the ground.  Harvest no more than three fiddleheads from a cluster, being careful not to damage the remaining heads. If you strip or uproot a cluster, the fern won’t grow back.

Fiddleheads should always be thoroughly washed and all hairs removed, then blanched or boiled before eating to break down the enzymes, as cooked they are much easier on the digestive system. 

After that, a little butter and lemon is all you need.