leading the way to results for fresh food marketing

A voice of reason. Jim’s thought-provoking article deserves your thorough read. In this article titled, "Waste Food, Not Money", he hits the nail on the head on a topic that dominates the airwaves today. Our focus as an industry should be to keep the main thing, the main thing. ~Anthony Totta, FreshXperts

Waste Food, Not Money

Originally published in PRODUCE BUSINESS, April 2019 issue; Used with permission.
By Jim Prevor

When sustainability first became a big thing in produce, I became an avid student of the subject. I did course work at Harvard, read dozens of books and spoke with leaders in the field. As I wrote more and more on the subject, I also began giving speeches. As I crossed the country and even traveled the world speaking on sustainability and its application to the produce industry, I sometimes would mention the costs of these efforts.

Very frequently someone in the audience, typically people in charge of sustainability efforts for their company, would object. They would explain that their sustainability efforts save their companies money. Typically, they would give an example such as replacing the light bulbs with longer-lasting versions or versions that were more efficient in electric use — so there was, in fact, a positive payback, even when the time value of money was included.

Yet, this didn’t really make sense to me. In order for sustainability to be “a thing,” you had to identify projects that a sustainability-minded CEO would execute but a CEO with a different perspective would not. Of course, every project depends on the indi­vidual circumstances of a company, so if the company doesn’t have cash or financing available to buy the more expensive bulbs, then, of course, sustainabil­ity-loving or not, the company must buy the cheap ones and, literally, keep the lights on.

Even assuming a well-financed organization, if buying better bulbs saves a company money sufficient to cover the cost of financing the bulbs or if the improvement exceeds a hurdle rate that attracts invest­ment — then any CEO should approve the expenditure. If we call that sustainability, then we are just saying businesses should be conducted with a long-term focus, which is actually a tenet of business manage­ment anyway.

Understanding terms and what one is trying to achieve is crucial to the conduct of business and public policy. Thus the mass focus on food waste is really a concern, because the very term “food waste” is not clear, so the condemnation — the very use of the term “waste” implies a negative — is often more virtue-signaling than an actual problem.

All over the world, companies have launched so-called “funky produce” efforts. The idea sounds flawless: Take perfectly healthy and delicious produce that happens to suffer from some cosmetic defect and is now being mostly left in the field or packinghouse and pack it up to be sold to consumers at a discount.

Yet, time after time, these programs are announced with great fanfare — public evidence of everyone’s desire to do the right thing — then quietly dropped when the programs fail. The items don’t sell, or they do, but only at a price where everyone loses money.

The reason these don’t work is that the word “waste” is misused by modifying it with the word “food.” Having some produce sit unhar­vested in a distant rural field is actually a way of avoiding waste! Each item is different of course, but generally speaking, to add value to that item, it has to be picked, packed, shipped, insured, inspected, given shelf space in a store and marketed. It is not uncommon for those other costs — post-growing costs — to account for more than 90% of the cost a consumer pays for produce.
So, it typically makes sense to apply all these other costs against cosmetically pleasing produce. We have now seen time and again that consumers will accept wonky produce, but they feel entitled to deep discounts over standard produce pricing, discounts not justified even if the wonky produce was free to take from the fields of Idaho — or Peru!
The whole battle against food waste seems to be conducted with a presumption that the optimal amount of waste is zero. But this is not true. If you send pickers in to repick fields, and they can’t pick enough to cover the cost, then you are wasting labor.
If the value of what you are shipping won’t cover the trucking cost, you are wasting gas, vehicle depre­ciation and driver time.
Even with consumers, sure, there are areas where the industry can do better. Recently when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environ­mental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Admin­istration (FDA) announced a federal interagency strategy to address food waste, FDA Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas pointed out the challenges of date labeling: “Contrary to popular beliefs, date labeling on food packages is often intended to communicate time ranges for optimal food quality, not safety.”
He is right that it would be good to date-label more effectively to be clear about safety and quality. But how much food waste this causes in produce is unclear. Most produce is not date-stamped, and many people want their food to not only be safe but also of optimal quality. They might throw it out even with perfect knowledge.
Consumers are really good at expressing what they value by what they buy and what price they pay. Is it worth expending resources to go back and do a third picking of smaller peppers? The market tells us. And if we do it, despite consumers not being willing to cover the cost, we will reduce “food waste” at the expense of wasting labor, fuel, equipment and, in the end, money.
Since money can buy food, medicine and so much more, warping policy to favor a minimization of one type of waste — food — at the expense of other things is a mistake. Money is a terrible thing to waste.
Thanks to Jim Prevor and PRODUCE BUSINESS magazine for allowing us to share this article. Click to visit

by Ron Pelger

New Way of Thinking and Selling Today

Today is a different sales environment with tougher competition.

The most important advantage today is the SALES FORCE.
It’s not about working longer, harder, faster, or even smarter today.
It’s about working DIFFERENT

Sales Fact: - 33% of salespeople are below average in meeting their budget. Why do 33% of salespeople fail to perform?

Do you know what most retailers hate? It's salespeople who take up valuable time, but never sell anything. If retail buyers heard one old presentation, they heard them all. That’s probably why decision makers never purchase their product. Their presentation format is the same all of the time.

Most salespeople today seem to be in a rut by using the same old methods of trying to sell their company’s product. Many “shoot from the hip.” They ramble along with the same routine on every visit in front of a buyer or decision maker who tries to keep from dozing off. Nothing changed – Nothing different.
There are Top Sellers and Bottom Sellers-- 

According to studies made by Harvard University and the Gallup Organization, only 4% of U.S. salespeople sell 94% of goods and services.

Click the button below to continue reading the article and get tips for improving sales skills.

Continue Reading FreshXpertise

Ask the Xpert

Q: What is CRM? Why would I need one? 
A: How do you track tradeshow leads or for that matter sales contacts and other business connections? By definition, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is "is a technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. The goal is simple: Improve business relationships. When people talk about CRM, they are usually referring to a CRM system, a tool that helps with contact management, sales management, and more.
To pull the most ROI from your tradeshows, customer visits, and sales contacts, you need a system, a plan, for follow-up, collection, and team sharing.
CRM systems come with a variety of features and in all price points to meet the needs of companies large and small. eFreshTrack is FreshXperts' CRM partner.

In Season: Market Memo

Update 5-6-19
May has brought transition from the winter growing regions to our summer regions. Growers are seeing excellent weather conditions as well as optimal quality.  Plenty of promotions are going as we have Mother’s Day and Memorial Day which brings opportunities in both foodservice and retail.  Look for pricing to increase as demand picks up in the middle of the month.  We will see a strong Central Valley crop this year as orchards are going to have record blooms.  Cherries are going to have their strongest year in a while and growers of plums, nectarines, apricots, and peaches are going to have strong crops in 2019.  With these growers having a record crop, we will see added logistic demand in the central valley which means trucks will be tight this summer.  It is good to have your carriers commit to lanes well in advance this summer.  We don’t see rates going as high as last summer, but the bumper crops in the Central Valley will need to be moved thus strengthening the truck market.  Memorial Day is right around the corner so get ads in place for your customers that are going to be ready to get outside and BBQ. 

~Paul Grothe

Upcoming events

United Fresh

June 10-12, Chicago
FreshXperts Anthony Totta, Eric Bosveld, and Nick Pasculli will be attending

PMA Foodservice

July 26-27, Monterey
FreshXpert Anthony Totta will be attending

Suggested Reading

SDR Ventures, blog, Eric Bosveld, "April Produce Deals May Bring Welcome Change to the Produce Industry"
Produce Business, Don Harris, "Re-energize Your 'Base' With Field Trips"
Perishable News, "PBH Foundation Collaborates with Beef at the Largest Food Blogger Conference to Advance Food Narrative"

FreshXperts is a consortium of consultants in the fresh industry. 
Experts in all aspects of the fresh industry–from Farm to Fork
Growers - Retailers - Distributors
Logistics - Foodservice -
Start Ups & New Ventures

For more information about our member FreshXperts, visit our team page
Anthony Totta: CEO; Business and Brand Development Specialist
Tim Vaux: Executive Leadership Specialist
Eric Bosveld: M&A; Agro-Economics Specialist
Ron Pelger: Retail Operations Specialist
Jennifer Lawson: Administration, Information Design
Paul Grothe: Foodservice Procurement Specialist
Nick Pasculli: PR & Marketing

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