Jelger de Vriend, Innovative Fresh:

“Everyone wants to be the best in fresh”

How do you become the best on the shelves with fresh products? This issue was discussed by Jelger De Vriend of Innovative Fresh during the International Strawberry Congress. He started by talking about the Michelin guide 1926 as an example, which had a unique assessment system, in which the best restaurants were awarded stars. “Even then, they said: ‘An Exceptional Experience is Worth a Special Journey.’ It was a different time, but the system hasn’t changed: people still make an effort for something special,” Jelger explained. With Innovative Fresh he inspects the quality of fresh products on the shelves.

Everyone wants to be the best in fresh
“Back then, people looked for the best food in restaurants, but nowadays they also look for that in supermarkets. The current blurring trend means people can also turn to retail for a ‘special experience’ or ‘fresh experience.’” Jelger also noticed that discounters, such as Lidl, also focus increasingly often on ‘fresh.’ “Everyone wants to be the best in fresh. Fresh produce is a very important part of that: the centre.” He focused on strawberries, and indicated that strawberries are different from other berries. “Strawberries are often found with raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, but these are niche products. Strawberries are mainstream. It’s difficult to get good margins with this product.”

Special journey

But how do you become the best in fresh? Jelger emphasises the importance of visibility and a good flavour. According to him, there are various elements for raising strawberry sales, including appearance, visibility, flavour, availability and shelf life. “Flavour is a very important part of customer satisfaction. Consumers are very disappointed when the flavour isn’t good, even when the product is cheap. A delicious flavour ensures repeat purchases.” He finished with the quote: “An Exceptional Strawberry Experience is Worth a Special Journey.”

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