Successfully Merchandising Wet Rack Produce

A Science and an Art

Produce clerks should check the wet rack several times a day to monitor, rotate and restock product. Employees should consider whether they would purchase the product. It’s better to pull items as shrink rather than diminish the shoppers’ perception of the store’s ability to offer fresh, quality produce, says Joey Bruno, category analyst with Salinas, CA-based Tanimura & Antle.

Fixture type, air flow, water pressure and nozzle sanitation are can affect merchandising. “Merchandising is a matter of blending the science and the art,” says Bruno. “The art is a matter of understanding the likely steps in a consumers’ path to purchase. Variables such as color and texture breaks can make a difference in creating an inviting and exciting presentation.”

Adding a colorful array of root vegetables, including purple, orange and yellow carrots, red and gold beets, Easter egg radishes and French breakfast radishes can make a wet rack attractive, says Babe Farms’ Manos. “It’s about ‘marketing bright’,” she says. “Make the wet rack stand out with color and placement of the vegetables. Utilize decorative baskets, pots, and signage. Visual appeal will pique customer curiosity and draw them in for a closer look.”

Corrigan’s Stavrou recommends vibrant and colorful displays showing a variety of product. “As the wet rack is typically the most eye-catching display in the store, it’s important to keep it well-organized, layered and properly arranged. Using contrasting colors is an easy way to make products stand out. Many effective displays are tiered and displayed at an angle.”

Manos advises keeping the produce aisle well-staffed with workers constantly rotating and restocking with fresh product. In interacting with customers, the produce staff should be well-versed in every item offered in their aisle, she says.

Cleanliness and proper maintenance are vital to wet rack merchandising, for both aesthetic and safety, says Borda. “Excess water can create foodborne illness and make the wet rack area dangerous for consumers, so misting systems should be calibrated on a regular basis,” he says.

Merchandising vegetables in the misting section faces the same challenges, says Mike Corrigan, Corrigan’s chief executive. “The misting system was never an end unto itself,” he says. “It was always just a tool that could help the people using it.”