Distributors play an important role in ensuring that restaurants and grocery stores have access to the freshest, highest-quality produce available.
If you’re thinking of starting a fresh produce distribution business, you’ll need to know how and where to buy. There are, after all, many factors that can affect the quality and shelf life of produce, and many aspects that you’ll need to navigate in order to be successful.
Produce businesses can enlist the help of technological solutions like https://usesilo.com/products/buying, which allow for informed, data-driven purchasing. You can use these platforms to link all expenses and communicate more seamlessly with vendors.
Regardless, today’s article will cover some buying tips that distributors can follow.
1. Know your supplier
When you know your supplier well, you can trust them to provide you with high-quality products every time and will be able to learn about their business practices and production methods. Establishing a good relationship with a supplier takes time and patience, but it’s well worth the effort.
In addition to quality, getting to know your supplier will likely net you better pricing on products. Because you’ll be considered a regular and preferred customer, your supplier will give you discounts that can result in significant savings.
2. Inspect the produce
When inspecting the produce you receive, look for any signs of spoilage or damage. Damaged produce may be unsafe to eat and will likely not last long on the shelf, resulting in monetary loss.
It’s also important to note that not all fruits and vegetables are created equal. Some items, like avocados, bananas, and tomatoes, will last a few days after they’ve been bought, giving you time to sell them off. Other items, like lettuce and berries, will only last a day or two.
3. Consider the season
Whenever possible, try to purchase produce that’s in season. While certain fruits and vegetables are available year-round, they will likely taste better to consumers if you buy them when they are in season, increasing sales.
4. Ask about storage conditions
When buying produce, ask your supplier about the storage conditions for the product you’re buying. Proper storage is essential for keeping produce fresh. Optimal conditions for storing produce are cool, dry places.
5. Look for uniformity
When selecting produce, it’s essential to choose items that are uniform in size and shape. This will ensure that the product looks attractive when displayed on shelves, as consumers have come to expect consistency with their produce.
One way to check for uniformity is to look at the color of the produce. If all fruits or vegetables are of a similar color, they are more likely to be uniform in size and shape.
Another way to check for uniformity is to feel the produce. Squeeze a few pieces of fruit or vegetables in your hand and see if they are all about the same size and have a similar texture.
6. Check for ripeness
When selecting fruit and vegetables, it’s essential to check for ripeness. Some unripe produce will not ripen properly once picked, while overripe produce will not have a long shelf life and may spoil quickly.
There are a few ways to check for ripeness, including the following:
- Color: With many fruits, you can look at the color—for example, a ripe apple will have a deep red color.
- Softness: You can also check for softness with other fruits, such as avocados. An avocado that’s ripe will be soft to the touch.
- Scent: You can also test for ripeness by smelling the fruit or vegetable. A ripe peach, for example, will smell sweet.
It’s crucial to select ripe fruit and vegetables to prevent waste.
7. Avoid bruising
Bruising is a common problem with many types of fruits and vegetables. It can make them look unattractive and can also give them a shorter shelf life. Be careful when selecting products, and avoid handling them unnecessarily to prevent bruising.
Produce that’s already bruised should be avoided, as it’s likely to spoil quickly, not only resulting in waste but monetary loss as well. If you do end up with bruised produce, try to sell it as soon as possible.
8. Understand food safety guidelines
When buying fresh produce, it is essential to understand food safety guidelines to reduce the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks. Hand-washing is one of the most critical prevention techniques, so be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling produce.
Additionally, distributors should follow safe handling practices such as keeping produce cold and washed. Following these guidelines can prevent the risk of recalls.
9. Store fruits and vegetables separately
There are a few reasons why it’s vital to store fruits and vegetables separately.
The first reason is that certain fruits release ethylene gas, which can cause vegetables to ripen quickly and spoil prematurely.
The second reason is that different types of produce require different moisture and humidity levels to stay fresh. Storing them together under the same conditions is less than optimal.
Lastly, many fruits and vegetables have distinct aromas that can affect each other’s flavor. Keeping them separate will help maintain the taste of each type of produce.
To store fruits and vegetables separately, you’ll need to create two separate areas. One area should be for storing fruits, and the other should be for storing vegetables.
Ensure that the fruits and vegetables are in separate containers or bags so they don’t touch each other.
The above tips are key to selecting the best produce. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that you’ll be providing your customers with the freshest, most flavorful fruits and vegetables. What’s more, you’ll be able to reduce waste and save money in the long run.