Bland Farms' Troy Bland and Meg Robinson Divulge Exclusive Merchandising Tips
GLENNVILLE, GA - As produce industry stakeholders, the word “Vidalia®” has a unique way of making our ears perk up. Be it the specialty allure or the unprecedented demand, this onion variety is in a league of its own. As one of the industry’s biggest Vidalia promoters, Delbert Bland, President of Bland Farms, has helped make Vidalias a household name. Through new partner promotions and meticulous merchandising strategies, the company has positioned itself as a leader on the supply side.
To learn more about Bland’s dynamic merchandising tactics, I tapped Troy Bland, Chief Operations Officer, and Meg Robinson, Marketing Manager.
“There is no substitute for quality, but sometimes it’s not perfect in the world of fresh produce. The most successful retailers strive to understand the growers and like to work with produce partners who understand the retailer’s needs as buyers,” Troy began. “Retailers and growers should be working together to satisfy the consumer. It's in their mutual best interest to collaborate on produce promotions and programs where everyone wins.”
According to Troy, some ways to better collaborate on produce promotions fall under the following do’s and don'ts for merchandising fresh produce:
- Properly and creatively design your produce displays to inspire engagement
- Utilize bold signage that displays the produce variety, pricing, and tells a story about the grower
- Highlight when a product is seasonal or limited-time only—consumers have a fear of missing out
- Design promotions that create consumer excitement for the upcoming season. This can also create future demand
- Provide product information for the consumer AND the produce associates on selection, usage and recipe ideas, nutrition information, handling, storage, and merchandising tips
- Offer consumers options, ie. bulk, bags, or pre-cut
- Look for cross-selling opportunities with secondary displays to generate impulse sales
- Don’t neglect your displays and let them get depleted at the end of the day. Keep them full and fresh
- Don’t confuse the customer with too many in-store promotions at once. Keep focus on the fresh produce
- Don’t forget it's all about the customer, i.e., focus on what they want and try to deliver it
Driving home the company’s prowess in this sector, Meg jumped in to discuss Bland Farms’ most recent merchandising strategy via a new partner.
“Bland Farms provides consumers and retailers with information and merchandising support for a variety of sweet onion promotions,” Meg added. “This year, the company has something really special that will bring excitement to the whole produce department. In partnership with Paramount Studios, this 2020 Vidalia season Bland is bringing retailers its Sponge on the Run promotion. This dynamic retail promotion combines new themed packaging, boxes, shipper displays, retail POS, consumer sweepstakes, a social media contest, and more, all inspired by The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, in theaters this spring. This is just the latest example of how Bland keeps the excitement going for Vidalias, and supports retailers’ efforts to increase all produce sales.”
In addition to its merchandising expertise, Bland Farms practices advanced handling procedures to ensure the best quality produce. The company takes extra precautions to maintain high-quality pallets, strict instructions for product stacking, standard operating procedures for loading pallets onto trucks, and the flow of product directly to a controlled temperature environment. Bland ensures that product is loaded onto a truck that is pre-cooled to a specific temperature, that the temperature is maintained in transit, and recommends these temperatures for storage at customers’ warehouse locations.
Retailers and growers, take notes! Bland Farms’ proven merchandising methods are a surefire way to drive foot traffic into the produce aisle. Keep a tab open for us at ANUK as we continue reporting the latest industry news.