Hein Deprez, executive chairman of Belgium-based fresh produce giant Greenyard Foods, believes the way to boost consumption of fruit and vegetables in Europe is by placing fresh produce side by side with frozen and canned produce on the supermarket shelves.
He expressed the notion last month in an interview with Retail Detail.
Greenyard Foods boasts an assortment of fresh, frozen and canned produce through its Univeg, Pinguin and Noliko companies, and Deprez believes the industry would be better served bringing the different segments closer together, including having a spokesperson for the fruit and vegetables sector as a whole. Deprez didn’t rule himself out.
"When you present the entire range, the shopper can make a considered choice based on the speed, convenience and price of the product, as well as on their own customer profile,” said Deprez. “This is not the case today. A customer who wants to buy carrots will head to the fresh vegetables section at the start of their visit, but it is only when they approach the tills at the end that they realise the huge selection of frozen carrots available: baby carrots, chopped carrots, sliced carrots, diced carrots, cooked or raw carrots. By that time, it’s too late.”
Deprez deplores the positioning of the frozen section at the far end of supermarkets and remains unconvinced by the standard retail defence, that it’s too costly moving the fridges and that it avoids items thawing in the basket over the course of a shop.
“But what are those few minutes in the store compared to the time it takes a shopper to get all the way home?” he asks. “The temperature in the refrigerators is sufficiently low and there are isothermal bags. Imagine, a new store experience could only boost sales.”
Indeed, some retailers are now beginning to think in a similar fashion, with the Netherlands’ Albert Heijn and Spain’s Mercadona making progress in this direction, stocking canned vegetables alongside fresh. For Deprez, this is an important step toward increased consumption of fruit and vegetables.