Jan Prinsen, BFFI:

“Retailers should have more respect for seasons”

The way fruits and vegetables are presented abroad is often more beautiful than in Belgium. Abroad, they play with colours, and use far less EPS in favour of wooden packaging in the displays. Especially in France they often use wooden crates. Besides, they often pay attention to seasonal products. “Clever displays,” Jan Prinsen says of the displays during his presentation at the fresh conference, organised by Storecheck.

Jan Prinsen of the Belgian Fresh Food Institute often visits supermarkets and markets abroad. He notices that displays look different there. “They also use packaging less, and have fewer references per article, making it easier to choose for consumers.”



Organic
Prinsen sees an increase in organic products. “In the Netherlands you have the Ekoplaza, a beautiful shop carrying only organic products. German Temma, which is part of REWE, is also completely organic. French wholesaler’s market Rungis also has an organic department nowadays. It strikes me that the quality of organic products is as good and looks as beautiful as conventional fruits and vegetables.”



Seasonal
Prinsen thinks the presentation of seasonal products should be done much more lavishly. “When it comes to, for example, asparagus, presentations could be striking. Besides, there are opportunities to anticipate a consumer’s leisure with peeling machines. Sales of combinations with other products also work. You could help people choose, for example, by displaying the right wine and small potatoes next to the asparagus.”



Locally

Another trend is locally grown produce. “This is more visible in some countries than in others. In the UK, the British flag is shown on packaging of fruits and vegetables. In Germany and France, mentioning the place of origin is also important. Products from certain regions take up an important place in those countries. In Belgium it is far less likely that the region is mentioned on the packaging. A good example of this is the Hoogstraten strawberry. We should be doing more with products from other regions, such as cauliflower from Mechelen. Customers want to know where products come from. A supermarket that does that very well, by the way, is Lidl. They offer many Belgian products, and that is clearly shown in their presentation.”


Local products: Germany, left, and France, right

E-commerce
The growth of selling fruits and vegetables online is not yet increasing quickly. “Yet I expect it will take over part of conventional sales.” Research shows that people aren't staying in shops as long. “People want to use the time spent in shops well. Much can actually be gained from having friendly staff.”

Less knowledge
Prinsen thinks the knowledge of fresh produce sellers in supermarkets has declined. “Because the people in the shops often have nothing to do with purchases and have very little background information, they are not as tuned in to the market and the products. tTerefore they can not inform customers properly about seasons or citrus varieties, for example. That could be improved.”


Products with the British flag on the packaging

Private label
Supermarkets are selling more and more products under private label. Prinsen thinks that is a shame. “Because of this, the beautiful brands are disappearing, from fruits and vegetables as well. We should be proud of those brands, and use them for presentation. With an increase of private label products, quality on the shelves will not improve. Our brands are in danger.”


Well-known brands: Flandria, Kira, Aida, Primor, Royal and Orchidea

Quality
Speaking of quality: “Because retailers sometimes start seasons too early or too late, consumers are introduced to products in the wrong way. For example, the Spanish season is often not started at the right time. Products are not even properly ripe then. Retailers should respect our seasons more, and pay better attention to starting and stopping the seasons at the correct time.”


According to Prinsen, tomatoes should be sold in combination with cucumbers and radishes more often

Prinsen’s advice
Prinsen had many more things and advices which he wanted to share. “For example, I often see promotions of fruits and vegetables next to each other. Spread the fresh produce promotions over the department, so that people walk by more products. Besides, products should also be tasted. For example, I once saw sprouts being offered as a snack, very innovative. Wok demonstrations with vegetables are also a good idea. Or you could organise a match around fruits and vegetables.”

For more information:
Jan Prinsen
Belgian Fresh Food Institute
belgian.fresh.food.institute@gmail.com
www.belgianfreshfoodinstitute.be

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