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Highlights of PG’s 2011 Produce Operations Review

In the immediate days leading up to the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) always incredible annual Fresh Summit that’s poised to get under way this weekend in Atlanta, we’re pleased to present a preview of our hot-off-the-presses findings of PG’s 2011 Produce Operations Review.

Providing a snapshot of the foremost issues on the minds of the average U.S. retail produce director, our annual “state of the retail produce department” study is based on the collective input of a cross-section of retail executives with authority for the produce category who were polled in August 2011.

While the full report appears in our October 2011 issue, key highlights of our annual survey is revealed in the problem index ranking, which asks Produce Operations Review panelists to pinpoint the most problematic departmental issues on a scale of 1-6 (with 1 being not serious and 6 being extremely serious). “Wholesale Prices” topped the leaderboard this year, leapfrogging from last year’s 6th ranked issue to claim the top seed this year, dethroning “Competition from Other Supermarkets” that factored as this year’s 2nd most troublesome consideration.

“Quality of Product” also gained two spots on the produce retailers’ worry list as the third most vexing issue for this year’s survey participants, followed by “Shrink/Spoilage,” which held steady in fourth place, paced closely by profits, which landed as the fifth most challenging issue.

“Customer Satisfaction Levels,” which surged in this year’s study to 6th place from 11th place last year was another big gainer on the produce department problem index this year, as was the 7th leading consideration -- the Price Perception of Fresh Produce -- an issue that had not previously been cited as a concern in previous PG Produce Operations Reviews.

Especially interesting was the collective dimmer view of the “Competitive Threat Posed by Wal-Mart,” which dropped back to the 8th rung among this year’s survey panelists vs. its 2nd place standing in last year’s survey.

Rounding out our retail produce worry-list on the 14th rung was “Compliance with the Industry’s Joint Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI),” a finding which, devoid of enlisting further specific feedback on the issue in this year’s survey, can either be interpreted favorably from the standpoint of retailer panelists that consider their organizations on board and prepared; or negatively, as a result of indifference, and/or worse, resistance to adapting to the important industry directive.

More details will undoubtedly be revealed about PTI and much, more more at PMA’s Fresh Summit, further information for which can be accessed here.

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