Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Open Letter to Ingles about Produce Waste

Dear Ingles: 

I'm writing to express disappointment in the amount of waste in your produce department, particularly in Mars Hill. I have several observations about my shopping experiences at that particular store. I hope this constructive criticism can help improve your service, reduce waste, and lead to improved pricing.

1. Last summer you were touting local lettuce with ASAP "get to know your grower" information posted with it. This lettuce wasn't stocked with other lettuce in the cooler area, which would have preserved it. Instead it was displayed (for more attention-getting, marketing purposes) up front in a stand-alone display - presented prettily at first. But it quickly wilts, resulting in undesirable lettuce, fewer sales (in this case for the local grower) and gives the grower a bad reputation by displaying a wilted produce. The long term result is a negative impact for local growers.

2. In my observation Mars Hill probably doesn’t sell as much local organic greens as some of your other stores (if you’re ordering the same quantity), or you’re simply over-ordering to fill the available space. If the latter is the case, that’s a shame. What I notice when I get to the area for organics is generally nothing but wilted, sad greens. When they look this way, I opt not to buy them. Can’t you just stock fewer greens and restock more frequently? I’m no supply-demand expert, but I do know that you’re setting a trend in which I don’t expect to ever get green produce from your store – in this case – leading to lost business. Your supply is actually driving down my demand.

When I was in the store yesterday I took a picture of such decrepit looking lettuce it had shrunk to half it’s original size (evidence by the original banded “packaging”) and was beginning to rot on the shelf.  

I did pick up a wilted bunch of chard to buy last night. I got to the register and it rang up at nearly $4 for the bunch. I asked her to remove it from my bill and I left it to wilt and rot more with the rest of the produce on your shelves. Will you at least consider half-pricing your produce when it begins to wilt – but before it rots?

3. Where did the organic sweet potatoes go?
Have you seen this video?

 4. Can you please be sure every item is appropriately signed and priced accurately near the item you're selling. Often it's difficult to see what the price is for the item I'm considering purchasing.

5. Why aren't all the herbs displayed together (plastic-packaged and bundled)? It's so hard to identify where they are when one goes looking for something specific. In this case, it would make sense for organic herbs to be displayed with non-organic since generally when you're cooking you need that item regardless of whether it's been sprayed with toxins (in my experience).

Thanks for your consideration and attention to reducing waste and improving quality. 



Ingles Dietitian said...

thank you for your comments. We do in fact have organic sweet potatoes that are also local from New Sprout Organic Farm in Swannanoa - they appeared in one of our ads several weeks ago so they were in all stores. We work regularly with ASAP(Appalaichian Agriculture Project) in this area to promote local farmers and have their products in our stores. Ingles purchases the largest amount of local produce of any grocery store or specialty store in the area. We do have local organic produce in the refrigerated portions as well as in specialty carts.

Leanna said...

I did find organic sweet potatoes when I went to Ingles last night. Hurrah!