Fresh Avenue's Amber Parrow Talks Preparing Retail for Back-to-School Upheaval
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
SALINAS, CA - There’s so much at play when it comes to anticipating the needs of the consumer, an occupation that became even more complex as every routine of 2020 was changed by shelter-in-place advisories, partial or total closures, and now, a variety of strategies to schooling. To help retailers help shoppers navigate such options, Fresh Avenue approaches the market with multiple strategies marketers can take advantage of.
“Our team’s experience on the sourcing side ranges from growing, procurement, and processing, so we know what to look for when working with growers/processors, as well as having networks and relationships established,” Amber Parrow, Marketing Director, shares. “We have a strong consolidation program where we are working with over 30 different producers—we want to make it easy to order a variety of items without worrying about filling a truck and taking all the administrative headache away from retailers.”
Such help might be increasingly crucial this autumn, as customers enter yet another shakeup to the year’s routine. With back-to-school season, and the school year overall, kicking off in uncertainty, any edge is a boon to all sides of the industry and those we serve.
“I think it is important to realize that up to this point schools have played a major role in creating healthy eating habits throughout childhood, so retailers can reinforce this work by supporting busy parents and those caring for kids outside of school with affordable, quick, and easy produce solutions, promotions of seasonal produce, and more grab-and-go options,” Amber shares.
She added that, because this school year will see more children learning virtually, the need to focus on offering these items and support for families is all the more important. Fresh Avenue helps retailers with sourcing and delivering fresh pre-packaged and value-added items, as well as taking steps to help further teach the next generation to love their fruits and vegetables.
“I love the action points in our latest infographic on teaching kids to love produce—understanding kids’ evolving tastes, and progressively introducing produce, from mild flavors to strong. At the elementary age, you can introduce salads, working into stronger flavors like onion and garlic in middle school, and then graduate to kale, broccoli, and bold flavors by high school. Retailers can take advantage of this by stocking offerings with brands and signage that target these items to each age group,” Amber reflects.
Signage and understanding, especially for younger eaters, can play a pivotal role in a time when children’s access to new items and options has narrowed.
“I believe there is a big opportunity in the produce department to take the items that school-age kids are eating and amplify the branding and messaging behind them,” Amber says. “It’s also understanding your store’s unique customer base, what they are eating at home, and what prompts their buying decisions like price, convenience, culture, and countless other reasons.”
As our industry continues to be an answer in a climate of questions, I am excited to see how members like Fresh Avenue continue to help deliver peace of mind throughout the supply chain.