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Pundit Mailbag: The Foodservice/Retail Packaging Dichotomy


We tend to underestimate the preferences and needs of both groups because we think first about selling and minimizing risk rather than solving problems. Kudos to Dole, and can I have those products in my store please?

— Meredith Auerbach
Strategic Marketing Projects for Agriculture

Meredith is responding to the piece we ran about Dole’s Fresh Asparagus; you can read the piece here. Meredith has long been one of the more astute observers of the produce trade’s marketing acumen. And she correctly identifies the fact that the trade often sets up a false dichotomy between foodservice packages and retail packages.

In this case, it doesn’t appear that retail buyers are offered the chance to buy foodservice packages. And, incidentally the problem works in reverse as well. Every day foodservice purveyors are splitting cases to satisfy buyers when, perhaps, a smaller retail package might meet their needs.

Certainly the whole business of club packs has proven that there is a significant demand for larger sizes. What Meredith is really asking for is for shippers and retailers to look at things from the perspective of consumers. What are their problems, what solutions exist? So often product development and retail evaluation of product are so driven by issues like whether this will enhance margins or not.

If the industry is to grow and succeed, it must be consumer-driven. But this is often used as a catch-word without meaning. A big Hat Tip to Meredith Auerbach for making practical the meaning of consumer-driven. Thinking about solving the problems that consumers have rather than thinking about solving the producer’s or retailer’s problems.

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