Originally printed in the June 2018 issue of Produce Business.
Three city outposts help consumers make nutritious choices.
One of the retail chains catering to these modern consumer needs is Earth Fare. The company was founded in Asheville, NC, in 1975 and has more than 40 retail locations in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Currently, Earth Fare has three stores in the Indianapolis metro region: one in the southern part of the city, one in suburban Carmel and one even farther north in Noblesville.
“The company’s founder envisioned a place where shoppers could feel confident they were putting only the healthiest foods in their shopping carts,” says Mike Lappin, director of produce. “Today, that vision is realized through Earth Fare’s pioneering Food Philosophy, which ensures all products in the store are free of added hormones, antibiotics, artificial fats and trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, artificial preservatives, bleached or bromated flour and artificial colors or flavors.” A “boot list,” which is available to consumers on the company’s website, lists other harmful additives and ingredients that have been banned from store shelves.
In addition to fruits and vegetables, Earth Fare’s produce departments sell salad mixes and dressings, pre-cut stir-fry mixes, fresh fruit cups and convenience products such as house-made salsa and guacamole. “We also have a robust cross-merchandising program in our stores designed to make shopping convenient for our guests,” says Lappin. “For example, near the salad set our shoppers will also find dressings and croutons, plus other featured items such as shredded cheese, hardboiled eggs, various proteins and salad-focused vegetables.”
Produce comes from local distribution partners, as well as directly from local farms. “We have a team of category managers who work directly with our distributors and growers to align our assortment to ensure our shoppers are able to select from only the freshest, highest-quality produce,” says Lappin. “Our produce managers order and receive fresh produce multiple times throughout the week and are highly skilled in understanding their unique customer base.”
Earth Fare has built its business on helping shoppers feel confident about what they’re buying. “We like to say we read the label so you don’t have to,” quips Lappin. For that reason, each item in produce is marked with a professionally made sign that includes the country of origin, promotional and savings information, and whether it is organic, local, non-GMO or Fair Trade. Stores also use signage to highlight seasonal produce and recipe ideas.
Earth Fare sends out weekly emails to alert shoppers about special promotions throughout the store, including items found in produce. Shoppers who sign up for the Healthy Rewards program have access to special pricing on certain items each week.
“Our promotions are designed to allow shoppers to buy fresh, in-season produce at a compelling value, and we work with other departments to ensure promotions are cohesive and make the shopping trip easy for the shopper,” says Lappin. “For instance, we recently ran a promotion called Taco Tuesday, which featured special pricing on grass-fed ground beef from our meat and seafood department and made-in-house salsa and guacamole from the produce department, all paired with Earth Fare’s everyday, low-price organic tortillas and tortilla chips. The goal is to take the guesswork out of planning a healthy meal.”
The company recently launched an in-store magazine called The Clean Plate. In addition to outlining Earth Fare’s philosophy and values, it provides recipes, diet information, profiles of new products and information about current promotions.
“Since fresh produce is at the core of a healthy diet, we have always dedicated a large portion of our store to this department,” says Lappin. “As more and more consumers realize how their food choices affect their quality of life and overall health, they are reaching for fresh produce more often, and Earth Fare is proud to be the store that helps them make healthier choices in every category of the store.”
2110 E. County Line Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46227
Phone: (317) 881-7360
1392 S. Rangeline Rd, Carmel, IN 46032
Phone: (317) 575-1741
13145 Levinson Ln, Noblesville, IN 46060
Phone: (317) 773-3271
Hours for all locations:
Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-9 p.m.