By: Karina Beltran-Romero, Manager, Member Relations, FMI

I’m new to FMI and learning a lot about the ins and outs of the food industry. In preparation for our Store Operations Series: Fresh Focal Point, I took a virtual walk through a supermarket with FMI’s in-house expert, Rick Stein, vice president of fresh foods. Rick helped me see the store in a whole new way.

We started in the produce department, where Rick explained how the vibrant colors attract the customer and how a good produce department will contrast the display to showcase the vivid fruits and vegetables. For example, you might see oranges in between red apples. Signage can also communicate the price point and information about the product—if it is local, organic or if there is a bonus or sale.  

Next, Rick took me to the seafood department, where he told me to focus on the variety and freshness of the offerings. Seafood variety is extremely important, as shoppers want to see the basics like salmon and shrimp, but also full variety of seafoods like oysters, clams and different finfish displayed. Rick gave me a tip—go to the seafood clerk and ask what's fresh that day, which might lend important information that drives decision making. I also learned the seafood department can be a source for recipes and cooking, preparation and service ideas—all things shoppers are looking for.

Up next was the meat department, where again variety and freshness are key. Here I learned it’s important to think about all the different occasions or cooking techniques shoppers might be buying for—grilling, sautéing, baking, sous vide, air frying, and more. Shoppers want to see all the options available to them to meet their needs. For example, if I'm buying pork, I want to clearly understand all my choices, whether it's a pork loin, pork chops, pork ribs, etc.

As we neared the conclusion of our trip, the next stop was the deli and prepared food department. Here Rick shared that the focus is convenience and helping shoppers create hybrid meals—some scratch cooking, but also help with preparations, sides dishes or more. For example, shoppers might want pre-cut vegetables to speed up meal preparation or side dishes like green beans and mashed potatoes made ahead of time.  

Last, but not least, the bakery, where Rick shared that the key, again, is variety—items that compliment meals and spark the shopper’s appetite. For example, hearty breads with high-quality baked goods and desserts to attract the customer’s sweet tooth.

By the end of my tour, my eyes were opened, and I was ready for more. I’m excited to dive in and explore the fresh foods departments more on Thursday, April 14 with our digital seminar.

Sign Up for Store Operations Series: Fresh Focal Point