Progressive Grocer Independent

OCT 2016

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Produce Departments 22 | Progressive Grocer Independent | October 2016 It's often a result of sourcing from greenhouses that are far away from the store. e product is often picked before it's fully ripe, with the expecta- tion that it will ripen while in transit; however, that ripening only changes the color, in the case of tomatoes, while doing nothing to increase the sweet- ness of the fruit. e key is choosing a greenhouse that can have the product to the store shelf the day after it's har- vested, Lightfoot suggests. "When you grow produce and ship it to the whole continent, it becomes bland and tasteless," he says. "But you're able to do all sorts of fabulous things growing hydro- ponically, because you control the complete environment the plant has. You can actually grow phenomenally tasty products." e emphasis on local also taps into a top consumer demand. "Local is a proxy for better," Lightfoot adds. "And better is fresh, more nutritious, better-tasting. Consumers have been trained by their experiences in farm- ers' markets to expect better from local and correlate local as better." Picture Perfect Mirack notes that McCaffrey's sells a lot of hydroponic product, including lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. "A lot of that product is picture perfect," Mirack notes. is is a break from another trend in produce, the selling of so-called "ugly" produce, which is field-grown and still perfectly edible, but may not be perfect in appearance. is movement has its roots in an effort to reduce food waste, another growing consumer concern. Merchandising plays a key role in letting customers know which items are hydroponically produced and the benefits of such a growing method. McCaffrey's packaged hydroponically grown products are merchandised along with conventional products in the packaged salad set, but the hydroponic items have danglers and signs letting customers know the product was locally and hydroponi- cally grown two minutes away from the store. When the products were first introduced, the stores also had a monitor right above the products that told the story. e hydroponic produce is "re- ally starting to pick up momentum," Mirack says. "People are asking for it. I think they like the idea of it." PGI The World Standard For Destratification

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