PG Online Exclusive: 2013 Produce Operations Review

Shrink and supply chain traceability are among the key issues on the minds of retailer panelists polled in Progressive Grocer’s 2013 Produce Operations Review.

With total produce shrink estimated at 5.1 percent of sales, 30 percent of the annual retail produce benchmarking survey panelists saw their average shrink levels swell compared to a year earlier. Meanwhile, 25 percent said shrink levels declined alongside 45 percent who said the year-to-year shrink situation remained the same.

Among the tactics being employed by retailers to tackle produce shrink, three-quarters, or 74 percent of respondents, said plans are in place to change their produce procurement patterns to reduce unsalable product. Others are instead employing different tactics to deal with shrink ratios, 42 percent of which reported repurposing produce for industrial uses (i.e., energy), with 36.8 percent and 26 percent citing donations to anti-hunger groups and composting, respectively.

Produce Traceability

When asked about their overall stance and readiness to meet target compliance deadlines for the industry-wide Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), the majority of PG’s Produce Operations Review panelists seemed largely on board, though some are still clearly on the fence, as indicated by a sample of the verbatim survey responses found below:

• It’s important for food safety and security.

• It’s very important to ensure accountability with our fresh produce.

• We expect PTI to be adopted by all vendors, although we have not set a firm compliance deadline.

• PTI should be a standard practice, as long as the prices are not increased and passed along.

• Traceability is important to ensure effectiveness in the event of a recall. Customers need to know that retailers, wholesalers and producers have a system in place to ensure timely removal of product, as well as being able to keep consumers informed.

• It provides us and customers with peace of mind.

• This is something we are following closely and still have concerns about how it will impact our operations and business practices.

• Undecided – we're too small to have an impact with this issue.

• We are observing others in the industry and taking a wait-and-see approach. Our customers are not pressing us on this issue.

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