Skip to content

Why Category Reviews Are So Important for Your Produce Department

Striped hero element Curved white cut-off hero element

Retailers everywhere are beginning to prioritize category management to reduce wasteful spending.

Category reviews are especially important in the produce section, where efficiency is paramount to move perishable products. In addition, to shrink concerns, it’s a place where both your shoppers’ demands and seasonal availability frequently change— stressing the need for closely monitoring operations. 

Performing consistent category reviews in your produce department can have a big impact on your profitability, and here’s why:

Monterey-Mushrooms-Retail-Set (1)-1

1. Produce category reviews compare how the category performed against your goals. 

Your category manager has the tough job of reviewing and making frequent improvements to your procurement processes. But despite their familiarity with the categories within your produce department, they are not experts on individual products— and can’t be expected to be.

For instance, it’s the category manager’s job to see and understand that pears are hot this season, but these managers aren’t pear experts. The category review might show that Asian pears were causing deep shrink, but if the retailer teamed up with a pear expert who analyzed the data, the retailer might discover that Bartlett pears are rising in demand. Thus, the expert guidance of a retailer like you needs to forecast and change your next order. 

HERE AT MONTEREY

We’re proud to step in and do the same for retailer’s mushroom displays. We take a look at your goals for this individual category and have the expertise to see where improvements can be made. After combining your review findings, we’ll use our market research and insider knowledge to offer recommendations for meeting your quarterly or annual goals for your mushroom category. 

2. Category reviews confirm if assortment, retailers, promotions, and sets are all working in unison. 

To run your grocery department, there are many, many moving pieces. From developing an efficient assortment strategy with partners to promoting your products, category reviews take a hard look at the holistic process. 

But it’s one thing to find areas where you could improve spending, it’s another to make the necessary changes— and do it efficiently. Luckily, some food partners have the expertise to take on the job and to ensure that all upgrades have strategic direction.

HERE AT MONTEREY

Because our team takes the time to understand and optimize our client’s mushroom category, many grocers consider us true partners. For instance, for one client we consolidated into fewer SKUs, leveraged a new pricing strategy, revised promotional campaigns, pushed store sets that focused on turns, and even integrated organic mushrooms into their inventory. 

Well, can you guess the difference it made? Our category management assistance enabled them to grow their organic category share from single to double digits, double-digit growth in overall category units, and double-digit growth in overall category sales. Talk about teamwork! In fact, our work with that client earned us recognition as Category Captain for Progressive Grocer's MMI Awards.

3. When paired with new consumer and market trends, category reviews reveal new opportunities for growth.

Woman with a shopping list for groceries at the market

Every category has its own changing trends, both in terms of consumer demand and market value. Some change annually, but others as fast quarterly seasonality or even weekly. 

While a category review can give terrific insight into what performed well over past years, it’s not going to forecast what’s expected to grow in popularity. That’s where it’s important to team up with a partner who knows their category like no other— and who is diligent about keeping up with consumer and market trends.

HERE AT MONTEREY

With growing so many mushroom varieties, it’s important to keep up with consumer and market trends. Not only do we monitor the demand for wild, exotic varieties, we also work hard to provide many different options for staples like Whites, Browns, and Portabellas. For instance, we offer our best-sellers pre-sliced, organic, even ones with High Vitamin D, because we know what our customers want: convenient, healthy choices. 

It’s why we maintain close relationships with and follow other produce industry authorities to stay fresh and continue leading the U.S. mushroom market. We align our own data and expertise with trust sources like Information Resources Inc. (IRI) to predict growing trends before others. This is prime knowledge we share with our retailers!

In addition, every four weeks we share a detailed retail Tracker Report, which provides insight into category dollar sales, segment and variety sales, the average price per pound, and other helpful metrics. Download this month’s report today!

4. Category reviews help you make course corrections & guide your future category goals. 

No matter how diligently you track and finesse your category management, we’re all people and we all make mistakes. The important thing is to recognize where the error was made and make a quick course correction or make crucial changes to reduce spending in the future.

Sometimes, the error isn’t blatant either. It could be optimizing a process or adjusting the items you stock to increase sales and stop inefficiencies.

HERE AT MONTEREY

When we assess your category reviews, we typically work with your Sales Manager to make the course corrections for key improvements. For example, a retailer might notice an increase in shrink on sliced White mushrooms and ask us how we could prevent this wasteful spending. We might suggest they put fewer facings in the planogram of sliced Whites and instead replace them with sliced Baby Bellas. After a few weeks of careful monitoring, the retailer realizes the Bellas are selling and fewer Whites are being disposed of— and they couldn’t be happier!

The Benefits of Category Reviews in Action

In today’s COVID environment retailers continue to ask how to maximize sales and profits while the industry is being challenged with supply. Below are two retailers, one small and the other a national chain, that after some coaching pivoted on their current strategies and centered on consumer demands while still not giving up their overall goals for the category.    

Customer X

Customer X’s is a traditional retailer in the Plains region. Their goal was to grow their organic segment to the industry average or better while ensuring overall category sales and profits did not fund the organic growth. mushroom distributionSetting everyday retails, relocating organics into their base set and fine-tuning promotions set them on their way. For the next twenty-six weeks:

  • Customer X’s organic share grew from 10.5% to 15.5% (while the Total US averaged 13.5%). 
  • Customer X’s total category posted 21.3% sales growth, 21.0% unit growth, shrink reduction of (21.7%), and 
  • Customer X’s net profit growth of 29.5% over the same time the prior year. 

All proving that even in the COVID environment, you can still manage the category to achieve your goals.  

Customer Y 

Customer Y is a national retailer. Their goal was to maximize sales and profits without changing everyday retails in a COVID environment. With no retail or assortment changes, a promotional plan was put in place focusing on larger size packages that provided the following twenty-six-week results over the same time the prior year. 

  • Overall category sales grew +26.3% (while the Total US market averaged +20.7%). 
  • Overall category units grew +16.4% (while the Total US market averaged +15.6%) and overall category pounds grew +17.5% (while their market was at +17.1%). 
  • The retailer showed a shrink improvement of (34.1%) and Net Profit results of +45.2% over the same period the prior year. 

 

Start with Better Managing Your Mushrooms

While reassessing your produce department is a smart move, it can be a daunting task for category managers who realize the logistics. Some grocers rely on dozens of vendors for their produce, with hundreds of siloes of fruits and vegetables. 

Luckily, we know a great place to start: your mushroom display.

Learn more about how Monterey Mushrooms works with retailers to improve your product sales, today. 

Learn More About How to Get Our High Vitamin D Mushrooms On Your Shelves:

MontereyMushrooms-Sales-Rep-Map_rd02-01 (1)

Related Resources