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OPN Connect Newsletter 313 · March 30, 2023

Is Your Organic Produce Program a Brand?


When organic produce began to become a trend, many grocery retailers started to set up several items in the department. At first, it was thought to be a fad, and some produce directors handled items for a short time.

In later years, the organic produce category began to grow, with consumers taking a serious interest in the category, largely for health and wellness reasons. This soon grew into an extensive community of shoppers seeking pesticide-free fruits and vegetables.

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All grocery store chains now have a presentation of organic produce in a refrigerated section and off-shelf dry area. Some sections are large with an expanded variety, while others are smaller in size with only some basics.

There has been a growing customer community that will shop at the store where they can find the variety of organic produce they prefer on a regular basis.

When organic produce began to become a trend, many grocery retailers started to set up several items in the department.

So, how does your organic produce program reflect who you are with consumers? What does each retailer's produce department organic section stand for in your marketing area? Is it generic or is it a "brand”?

Vitalis June 2024

An organic produce section should have an identity in the minds of customers. It should employ strong branding to stand out and make a continuous impression with consumers. 

The organic produce section of a grocer’s department must represent a unique solicitation. Here are some factors to consider when branding your organic produce section:

  • Perception: A grocer can claim the best organic quality, freshest product, and widest variety. However, customers will turn away if the product is inferior, the items are wilted, and the choices are limited. Consumers expect more for their money, and they will form opinions of organic produce based on their perception of a specific grocer’s program.

The organic produce section should have an identity in the minds of customers.

  • Differentiation: What are you doing to separate yourself from your competition? Most grocery stores have organic produce sections and carry similar items. Successful grocers need to relate to customers as a brand they will remember by merchandising their organic produce in a unique way. What grocery chain comes to mind when you think of this type of branded presentation? Whole Foods? Sprouts?
  • Quality: Superior produce should always be offered in the organic produce section. It's part of branding. Since organic produce is priced higher, it can be justified if people feel it is a brand.

  • Consistency: When shoppers observe consistency in an organic produce program's quality and presentation, they will perceive it as a brand.
  • Advertising: Promoting more organic items and describing their health and nutritional value will tell a story to consumers.

  • Displays: The manner in which organic items are merchandised is a tremendous opportunity. The more you maximize product exposure, the more your shoppers will purchase. The use of end caps and off-shelf displays will capture attention and drive sales.

Successful grocers need to relate to customers as a brand they will remember by the way a unique organic merchandising presentation is carried out.

Remember to always keep your customer in mind. Consumers seeking out organic produce want to shop in a healthy atmosphere, and creating a strong brand in your organic produce section will help achieve this.

Cal-Organic June 2024

Ron Pelger is the owner of RonProCon, a produce industry advisory firm. He is also a produce industry merchandising director and a media writer. He can be contacted at 775-843-2394 or by e-mail at ronprocon@gmail.com.

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