Insight, observation and inspiration from Brian Dey, Senior Merchandiser and Natural Foods Coordinator for Four Seasons Produce Inc
“Mangoes are Fun” Brian Dey
In digital age we currently find ourselves engulfed in and consuming from, the constant barrage of messaging can seem overwhelming, confusing and even a bit manipulative. We crave instant gratification from online shopping, even with our food and we desire the lowest price possible, latching onto the notion that we are “smart” shoppers. We feel more fulfilled with a diversity of shopping experiences, rather than being boxed into just one. As we enter deeper into the days where meal kits are delivered to our doors and our daily dose of fruit and vegetables are ingested by way of a morning juice, produce merchandising can seem like an archaic concept. But more and more research is showing that regardless of all the virtual and rapid reward delivery trends consumers continue to come back to and crave the real life, in-store experience of choosing their fruits and vegetables by hand. The old world style of showcasing your fruits and vegetables in big, bountiful, vibrant displays and passionately educating the chooser on the product, is still one of the most successful selling tools in produce. Attracting customers to your product at the store level takes skill, passion, and creativity and of course a clear understanding of the store demographic or simply put- knowing the customer.
Warming up to and with mangoes; through booze
My love for mangoes started off rocky. As a young girl venturing into Central America with my family in the late 1980’s, down the Pan American highway through Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and into Nicaragua, I had some run ins with mangoes. Few of those entanglements left me with a hankering for more. The soapy, ultra-sweet flavor wasn’t my thing and I gave up on them easily, without looking back. Thirty years later, I found myself importing and marketing these sweet perfumed beauties for organic farmers throughout Latin American and I decided to take another look. I don’t think it’s uncommon with some foods (can you say brussel sprouts) that a second try as an adult changes everything, especially when you toss in the “tried and true” recipe for reshaping taste- nostalgia, timing, connection and engagement. My coming of age with mangoes was born from my connection to mango farmers and the the sustainable food scene in Brooklyn and it advanced by a warehouse full of fresh organic mangoes and a local artisanal, farm to glass booze craze. As a cooking instructor who focuses a great deal of time on kids, I am aware that the perfect storm of ingredients can create an openness of the palette that allows kids to try things they would normally never try not to mention actually like what they are tasting. This is the story (told through booze) of my perfect storm that brought me to where I am today, a devoted mango lover and self proclaimed – Queen of the King of Fruits
Photo Credit: Laura DeOliveira
And I’m told… It’s Gazpacho time! For me, that means mangoes.
Today, the title to this post came into my social media feed in the form of an organic industry blog post (It’s Summer Time and Living is Easy). It came by way of my dear friend, organic produce colleague and cooking buddy, Melody Meyer. Melody is the Vice President of Policy and Industry Relations for United Natural Foods. In addition to her tasks as one of UNFI’s leaders in policy and ambassadors of organics, she sits on the board of the Organic Trade Association and is truly one of the most prominent, well educated and experienced leaders in the organic industry. She writes a blog for UNFI, called Organic Matters, and if you are interested in, or if organics matter to you, you should definitely follow her blog and social media. Not only is she well informed from years of experience and having an actual hand in all things organic, but she is funny, clever and writes exceptionally well, allowing for the complex policy and regulation aspects of organics to be easily absorbed.