Far too often, lack of care or inex­pe­ri­ence col­lide with pos­i­tive con­sumer encoun­ters. That clash adversely affects fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles.

Prod­uct qual­ity and prod­uct con­di­tion are two sep­a­rate issues. How we han­dle fresh pro­duce can def­i­nitely impact the lat­ter.

Care­ful han­dling will max­i­mize fresh­ness, and add to shelf life or serv­ing appear­ance. It makes sense then that mis­han­dling is counter pro­tect­ing the inven­tory and in-​stock items.

The influx of new employ­ees through­out the food indus­try requires train­ing and coach­ing on the sub­ject of han­dling. Proper receiv­ing is the first step in main­tain­ing good qual­ity stan­dards.

Observ­ing clean­li­ness of truck trail­ers, inte­rior vehi­cle tem­per­a­tures and neat and straight pal­let stacks are a few signs that a deliv­ery is accept­able. Look for car­tons or cases that have not been split open or torn.

Cold chain pro­to­cols are impor­tant year round. As we approach cooler sea­sons, chances are that pro­duce is trav­el­ling to us from far­ther away places. Keep­ing prod­uct in best tem­per­a­ture ranges is crit­i­cal to longevity. This goes for every­thing from berries to zucchini.

Most car­tons have a sug­gested tem­per­a­ture zone posted on the box for stor­age. If uncer­tain, there are mul­ti­ple resources avail­able to guide where to keep apples, cit­rus, herbs and mush­rooms.

Aside from hav­ing ambi­ent tem­per­a­ture– light, humid­ity and air­flow con­tribute to opti­mal stor­age.

Eth­yl­ene is a nat­ural ripen­ing gas given off by some fruits and veg­eta­bles. Eth­yl­ene causes cer­tain fruits and veg­eta­bles to ripen faster. Take care so that ethylene-​producing items are kept away from ethylene-​sensitive items. Good ven­ti­la­tion helps.

Bananas, toma­toes and apples are heavy eth­yl­ene pro­duc­ers. Watch where they are stored and what they are stored next to.

Imag­ine toss­ing or drop­ping car­tons of bell pep­pers or avo­ca­dos as they get off-​stacked from pal­lets or hand trucks. No Bueno. Smarter han­dling is to treat them as we would frag­ile eggs.

Fresh pro­duce is not immune to cracks, breaks and crush­ing due to rough han­dling. Treat every deliv­ery as pre­cious cargo. Con­cern all the way through the sup­ply chain shows up on the plate.

Post-​harvest clean­ing, sort­ing, pack­ing and cool­ing deter­mines final qual­ity. Gen­tle han­dling in the kitchen or pro­duce store room puts love on the table. A mes­sage worth shar­ing with the team.

To read the full Mar­ket Report, includ­ing this week’s mar­ket update, see below or click here.

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