How to Lay Out a Fresh Produce Department

by Devra Gartenstein ; Updated September 26, 2017
Vegetable section in the department store

Produce displays can be powerful marketing tools, showing off the attractive shapes and colors of the fruit and vegetable kingdom. Produce arrangements can also be a vehicle for keeping perishable items fresh and extending their shelf lives. Unlike most other departments in a grocery store, fresh produce displays need to be mostly dismantled every single night. This enables you to keep a close eye on your inventory and cull stock that is past its prime.

Separate items that don't store well together. Some fruits and vegetables, such as apples, avocados and tomatoes, produce a gas called ethylene. Other produce items like leafy vegetables are sensitive to ethylene, which can shorten their shelf lives.

Arrange produce thematically. Keep varieties of cooking greens together, designate a section for peppers, have a section for citrus fruit, and keep all your tropical fruit in the same area. This will enable customers to easily find the fruits and vegetables they want.

Put less perishable items like onions, potatoes and apples in islands in the middle of your produce section. Situate these islands in the vicinity of related refrigerated items; for example, place the vegetable islands near the refrigerated vegetables and the fruit islands near the refrigerated fruit. Leave enough space between the islands for customer carts.

Arrange produce in stepped tiers. This creates an attractive display, gives customers easy access to a wide variety of items and enables you to stock your displays with a minimum of effort.

Use attractive bowls and baskets to showcase fruits and vegetables. Arrange items outside of the baskets neatly around them to create visual flow.

About the Author

Devra Gartenstein founded her first food business in 1987. In 2013 she transformed her most recent venture, a farmers market concession and catering company, into a worker-owned cooperative. She does one-on-one mentoring and consulting focused on entrepreneurship and practical business skills.

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