Will displaying produce by season set a new grocery concept apart from rivals?
At the new Natoora store concept in the U.K., customers can expect the vegetables to be broken out into many more categories than a traditional — or even an organic — grocery store.
The new concept, which opened in the west of London, splits vegetables out by seasonality, identified as being either early, peak or late, according to Fresh Produce Journal. The selection will, according to the retailer, allow customers to “experience the subtle shifts in seasonality mainstream suppliers have eliminated in favour of uniform, year-round produce.” Rather than buying from mainstream distributors, Natoora is purchasing its products for the new concept from small-scale growers and provides information on such elements as the seeds and type of soil used to grow them.
Labels touting the environmentally-friendly characteristics of foods, especially meat and dairy, have been popular for some time. “Free-range,” “pesticide-free,” “natural” and “organic” are common in both mainstream and niche green grocers. Rarely, though, do distinctions get so granular for fruits and vegetables as what Natoora has on offer.
But with an increased public awareness of issues like fresh food waste caused by supply chain inefficiencies, there could be more demand for fruits and vegetables with more transparent sourcing. With increased awareness, more customers could begin to develop preferences around factors like seasonality.
View this post on Instagram
Stateside, a wide variety of grocers, including Whole Foods, promote their commitment to stocking local produce in-season and providing information on its origin. Whole Foods defines “local” as grown within a day’s drive away or less.
The chain also piloted a program in 2016 that sources “ugly” produce — fruits and vegetables that are still good to eat, but may appear imperfect to customers.
Some smaller organic players have already begun to offer a degree of guidance on issues like “clean” eating. Earth Fare, for instance, has begun publishing a magazine specifically geared toward teaching customers how to eat in keeping with the philosophy.
But it’s not totally clear whether sorting vegetables out by seasonality would be something larger grocers could manage at scale or that customers outside a small niche would be interested in.
- Natoora promotes seasonality with new store concept – Fresh Produce Journal
- Has food waste become mission critical for grocers’ bottom line and the planet? – RetailWire
- Should grocers be teaching Americans how to eat? – RetailWire
- Produce – Whole Foods Market
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see a concept such as the new Natoora store having appeal beyond a limited audience? Is the enhanced degree of information about vegetables on display valuable enough to inspire other grocers to follow Natoora’s lead?