Supermarkets, trying to redesign their stores amid increasing competition, are confronting a growing truth: Packaged-food manufacturers want to sit next to the lettuce.
Packaged-food manufacturers that make products like cheese and juice hope to cozy up to colorful and fragrant tomatoes, apples and pumpkins—in some cases fundamentally changing traditional store layouts.
The produce section has become the equivalent of the popular kids’ school-lunch table. The area is increasingly located near the supermarket entrance, so every shopper passes through it. And stores are finding that consumers consider even packaged foods placed there to be fresher and higher quality—researchers call this a “halo effect.”
But some grocers are grumbling, wanting to keep packaged goods from invading the produce section, which they say gives them “freshness credibility” that distinguishes them from the competition, such as warehouse clubs and convenience stores. With limited space, grocers are most likely to display fresh, high-margin items in the produce section.
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