Earlier this year, 14-store SoCal grocery chain Bristol Farms premiered a new retail format at the Irvine Spectrum Center, an upscale open-air shopping mall in Irvine, California.
Bristol Farms Newfound Market—as the new 34,000-square-foot store is called—combines the Bristol Farms grocery experience with a food hall featuring seven dining destinations created by the company’s chefs.
“It really is the next iteration of the Bristol Farms brand,” says Scott Wiggans, director of produce operations for Bristol Farms. “We want to give our customers an elevated shopping experience while sharing Bristol Farms quality, food, and standards. Irvine Spectrum is a destination, drawing a wide variety of guests. We’re excited by the opportunity to serve not only people who visit the property but the surrounding neighborhoods as well.”
Scott Wiggans, Director of Produce Operations, Bristol Farms
“We want to give our customers an elevated shopping experience while sharing Bristol Farms quality, food, and standards.” - Scott Wiggans
As is the case with all Bristol Farms locations, BF Newfound Market prioritizes organic produce. Wiggans says the produce departments at Bristol Farms banner stores are about 75 percent organic, while he estimates that BF Newfound Market’s produce offerings are 80-85 percent organic.
“We’ve added many new items to our wet rack—organic bok choy and other specialty items to specifically appeal to the discerning shopper,” says Wiggans of the BF Irvine produce department.
In general, Wiggans notes that Bristol Farms has been focusing on expanding its relationships with local, organic farmers, and he names Stehly Farms Organics and Dickinson Family Farms as two examples of local growers whose organic produce can be found at the Irvine store.
“Now more than ever, Bristol Farms is partnering with small-scale, local organic growers that grow their produce within 100 miles of our stores,” he says. “This clear definition of ‘local’ is important to and valued by our customers.”
“Bristol Farms Irvine presented an exciting opportunity to build new relationships with local farmers and increase our hyperlocal itemization. Because of this, you might find some produce that’s only in our Irvine store because of growing capacity and the fact that the farm is within the 100-mile radius.”
“Now more than ever, Bristol Farms is partnering with small-scale, local organic growers that grow their produce within 100 miles of our stores.” - Scott Wiggans
Wiggans adds that Bristol Farms is “just as committed to providing small-scale hyperlocal produce itemization in all [its other] Bristol Farms stores. This means that different locations might have different hyperlocal offerings, depending on proximity to the farms in their area,” he says.
When it comes to the company’s organic produce merchandising strategy, Wiggans says that Bristol Farms highlights its local, organic produce with “special signage that calls out the item and the grower.” He says Bristol Farms also likes to feature its best local, organic items on endcap displays to boost their exposure.
In terms of organic produce consumer favorites, Wiggans says that right now organic stone fruit is very popular at all Bristol Farms locations, including BF Newfound Market. “We work with Peterson Family Fruit, a small grower in Central California that provides some amazing eating organic peaches and nectarines,” he says. “They also recently became Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC)!”
Looking ahead, Wiggans says Bristol Farms plans to continue on its trajectory of emphasizing local, organic produce.
“We work with Peterson Family Fruit, a small grower in Central California that provides some amazing eating organic peaches and nectarines. They also recently became Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC)!” - Scott Wiggans
“Every year, we are increasing our organic and local produce offerings at Bristol Farms,” he says. “We are focused on making local organic farmers a main component of our produce business. We have our own distribution center and source directly from farmers, which gives us an advantage in maintaining our relationships with the people who are responsible for growing such amazing California produce. It’s important that we take care of our farming partners—not only to continue expanding our local, organic produce offerings into the future, but to help ensure these family businesses and co-ops remain a source of income and stability in their futures.”
In addition to an abundance of organic produce, Bristol Farms Newfound Market also features a wide variety of other grocery offerings—including over 350 kinds of cheese, full-service seafood and meat counters (with a dry-aged cooler), hot and cold food bars, an onsite kitchen, a broad assortment of ready-to-eat meals, a fresh bakery, catering services, a floral department, and a large selection of premium wine, spirits, and craft beers.
“Bringing the Bristol Farms experience to life at Irvine has been very well received,” Wiggans says. “We’re grateful for the feedback we’ve received. There’s a terrific energy in our food venues, and they’re doing well. In the produce department, we look forward to expanding our local and organic produce offerings even more.”
When asked whether the company plans on opening any other BF Irvine-style stores, Wiggans says, “We like to think of Bristol Farms Newfound Market as our lab. We’re experimenting with different concepts and innovations. The plan is that many of those elements will feed into both our existing and new locations.”