Meijer uses pilot program to improve avocado quality
With American consumers set to consume tons of guacamole on Super Bowl Sunday, Michigan-based retailer Meijer has announced that its produce team came up with a new pilot program to help control the quality of the chain’s avocado selection.
The retailer operates 258 super centers and grocery stores across six states, including new small-store formats where shoppers can find Meijer’s own brand products.
"When a customer buys avocados, they want to enjoy them within few days, so our team is excited our new approach is beginning to make a difference," said Kris Pedres, produce buyer for Meijer. "Many customers understand the benefits, but there are others who are hesitant or would only order guacamole in a restaurant. We wanted to remove the guesswork and frustration. We wanted to make sure any customer choosing an avocado can always find one consistent in quality, size and taste."
To give customers the best Meijer avocados possible, the chain designed a process for large ripening rooms at its distribution center in Lansing, Mich. At the facility, conditions are regulated so each avocado ripens consistently, meaning the produce is delivered to local Meijer stores at the earliest stages of ripeness.
Meijer’s quality control team members monitor progress in the controlled environments from the time the avocados arrive at the distribution center to the time they're loaded onto Meijer fleet trucks for delivery to stores participating in the pilot. Currently, they can manage the streamlined process for as many as 500,000 unripe avocados.
"This pilot program is just one more example of Meijer team members innovating to enhance the Meijer shopping experience," said Ron Lovelace, director of produce for Meijer. "In the spirit of continuing to offer solutions for our customers' everyday needs, we believe this pilot program is a first step in making avocados a healthy option for anyone who walks into one of our stores."