Keeping produce fresh is a difficult task all year round as a retailer. And as the weather gets warmer, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep stock at a high standard, but there are solutions to extend the life of your fresh produce!
Nonetheless, there are products to extend the life of your fresh produce, ensuring it's high quality both in storage and on the shop floor.
1. Implement an Effective Stock Rotation System
All fresh produce should be rotated using the first-in, first-out method to ensure older produce doesn't get lost at the back of display cabinets or cold storage units. Out of date, the stock is not only dangerous but can cause unpleasant smells during the summer months too.
2. Improve Stacking Procedures
Over stacking or tight stacking makes stock rotation harder, and it also reduces the amount of airflow around the product. Without a healthy flow of air, the temperature of the fresh product can rise, and condensation will occur, eventually speeding up food deterioration. Over stacking (more than two rows high) can also bruise and crush delicate produce, reducing the food quality.
3. Deal with Damaged Products
Unfortunately, you can't eliminate the damaged product issue, but you can actively tackle it. One damaged vegetable can spoil a whole crate's worth, so ensure your employees regularly check for product spoilage as they carry out their daily store duties. You can also place damaged produce 'bins' in your store so that customers can easily throw away any spoilt produce they might find.
4. Be Aware of Ethylene Sensitivity
Another tip to slow down spoilage during the summer months is to keep ethylene producing products away from ethylene sensitive ones. Avocados, bananas, peaches and tomatoes all produce high amounts of ethylene, to name a few.
5. Use Approved Containers
When stocking and displaying products in-store, you should never take goods out of their original containers. Produce needs to be stored in containers or boxes approved for food storage if you want to ensure goods stay fresh until their best before dates.
6. Check your Deliveries
Products need to be checked before the stock makes its way to the shelves to ensure it has arrived under the right conditions. A fully trained staff member should constantly monitor the temperature of goods and examine the cold store for any signs of cross-contamination. Produce that does not meet the required standards must always be rejected, as it may spoil quickly and become unsafe for consumers.
7. Have the Correct Cold Storage Solution
Once in storage, products have to be kept in the correct refrigerated container or cold store to ensure the quality of the product before it makes its way onto the shop floor. Cold stores should be clean and provide the correct temperature for the stock inside.
8. Check Temperatures
It's a legal requirement for retailers to have a clearly visible thermometer or electronic temperature measuring device in their cold stores. To ensure that produce is at a safe and correct temperature, these should be checked regularly by a designated staff member. Broken or inaccurate cold stores can speed up food deterioration, especially in summer, making food unsalable. CRS has thermometers as standard in all cold stores to help monitor the temperature constantly.
9. Clean Storage Areas
An unsanitary cold storage unit can cause product spoilage, especially when kept on the shop floor. Off or damaged products can cause unpleasant smells and leakage, both of which can contaminate 'good' stock. Regularly check and clean your cold storage units to keep food as fresh as possible in the summer heat.
10. Educate Employees
One of the easiest ways to keep retail produce fresh this summer is to educate your employees on the issues your store faces when temperatures rise. Teach your staff how to recognise and effectively deal with damaged products, and ensure everyone understands the importance of stocking and unloading cold store units effectively.
Are you looking to expand your supermarket produce capacity? View our retail cold storage units here and speak to one of our specialists today, and discuss how CRS Cold Stores can help you prevent accumulating a lot of waste in the summer.