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5 Ideas for Excitement in the Fresh Perimeter

5 Ideas for Excitement in the Fresh Perimeter
Sun Orchard sampled these unique citrus-based beverages at the recent PMA Foodservice Conference and Expo

Inspiration comes in many forms, but in the business of food, taste may be the most impactful.

In the world of food retail, grocery operators need to create an experience that shows consumers the possibilities of flavor and freshness. And in the produce section, that can be coupled with good health as well.

That’s why the Produce Marketing Association’s annual Foodservice Conference and Expo, held July 26-27 in Monterey, Calif., was the perfect spot for grocery retailers to get ideas on just how to better leverage the power of produce in their quest to be a destination for total meal solutions.

Among the expo’s more than 200 exhibitors were great examples for the kinds of demos, sampling and education that grocers should be delivering to surprise and delight their shoppers.

Here are some ideas that impressed me:

Juice Bar

OK, so the juice bar concept isn’t exactly new. The trick is to push the envelope on flavor – offer things folks haven’t seen before. I loved the maple cayenne lemonade sampled by Miami-based Sun Orchard; spicy yet refreshing, it delivered delightful lingering heat on the back end, much like the spicy ginger ales I enjoy. For those looking for something tamer, Sun Orchard offered a citrus ginger lemonade as well, along with an orange horchata that was a silky cross between the popular Mexican rice beverage and a Dreamsicle.

Avocado ice cream bars
Avocado ice cream bars by Simplot

Unique Ice Creams

Tops chefs have been stretching the boundaries of frozen desserts, so it’s time to bring that into the store. Avocado is hot for guac and on toast, but what about gelato? Del Monte Fresh served samples of avocado gelato in tiny cilantro-laced cones that made the experience more savory than sweet. Meanwhile, The Simplot Co. handed out frozen avocado bars, molded from creamy, not-too-sweet avocado ice cream, each with a small slice of the fruit embedded in it. These stick novelties are a cool way to offer a unique, portable flavor experience that lasts a while during the shopping trip.

Japanese street corn
Japanese street corn by Duda Farm Fresh Foods

Japanese Street Corn

Food on sticks is always a hit, as Duda Farm Fresh Foods was with its Japanese street corn – fresh sweet corn coated with aioli and zesty Asian seasonings for a unique takealong snack. Elote, or Mexican street corn, is popular as well in many markets. Shoppers will be fascinated by the similarities and contrasts of foods from different parts of the world.

Mushroom logs by QIHE

Mushroom Logs

Mushrooms are making inroads in blends with meat to deliver more veggies and make healthier burgers. But do folks understand exactly how the edible fungus grows? Seattle-based QIHE Mushrooms displayed smaller versions of the logs used in their growing operations that consumers can buy to grow their own mushrooms at home. QIHE reports they’re starting to get some visibility with large displays at major grocery retailers – consider adding this for visual interest and a bit of food education.


Many stores already offer microgreens in their produce departments, many grown in regional urban greenhouses but some harvested from hydroponic setups on store rooftops. Companies like Canada-based DelFresco Pure were eager to talk up the benefits of microgreens, in vogue with chefs and touted as having exponentially more nutrient value than conventional leafy green vegetables.

These are just a few ideas that can educate, delight and inspire supermarket shoppers looking for new flavor experiences and easier ways to eat healthier foods. Be the grocer that’s the go-to resource for everything about food.

Follow our live event coverage on Twitter at @pgrocer and @jimdudlicek.

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