One of the biggest problems in the produce industry is that shippers outside of the fresh-cut world often are totally focused on selling whatever products and packs they happen to produce. They don’t really think about their customers and how to serve them better.
There is often significant underinvestment in developing new products. Here is how Dole explains what it did:
With foodservice operators seeking a more convenient, value-driven asparagus pack, Dole rose to the challenge, creating a new product that eliminates both prep time and waste. This new item includes hand-selected fresh asparagus — already cut to a tip form, thoroughly washed and packed in a patent-protected, breathable microwave-ready bag, ready to serve in 6-8 minutes.
This product is being offered in 1.5lb and 2.5lb bags that extend shelf life by six days. Available in a 100% edible seven-inch tip length, this product is hand-selected and sorted to insure uniform sizing.
While focus of this fresh solution lies in providing usable product portions and simplified product preparation, improvement to the end-user is also seen in price. Dole’s fixed pricing on this item helps maintain stable food costs, while reduced labor costs and decreased freight cost is achieved per usable pound.
New products don’t have to mean new fruits or vegetables or for that matter, new flowers, new meats, new cheeses or new fish — it can mean altering the basket of products and services that go along with each item so as to change the value proposition for the customer.
Small feature changes, such as cutting the product to a tip form, pre-washing it and putting it in a microwaveable bag, have enormous implications for a restaurant’s labor, storage, waste disposal, and transit costs — it turns a simple vegetable into a new product.
I see so much money, time and energy spent to sell the same old thing that doesn’t address the customers’ needs. How much better for your company and your customers if you do some work on creating better products.