Natural Foods Merchandiser
Educate store customers on winter vegetables

Educate store customers on winter vegetables

It's the retailer's job to teach customers the health benefits and multiple delicious preparations of root vegetables. Retail consultant Mark Mulcahy shares tips for selling customers on winter's harvest.

What do your customers know about choosing, storing, preparing and eating root vegetables? My guess, based on several classes I've taught this year, is not a lot. As a retailer, it's your job to teach them the health benefits and multiple delicious preparations of these vegetables.

Not sure where to begin? Start by educating your staff and customers on some of the roots you're selling. For instance, does your staff know most roots taste best when they stay in the ground until after the first frost, which causes the root's starch to convert to sugar? Focus your teaching efforts on a different root each week. One that often doesn't get a lot of attention is the rutabaga, which is an excellent source of vitamin C, is sweeter than the turnip and turns slightly orange when cooked. Suggest customers use rutabagas to make a dynamite casserole.

Next, get rid of "Rootville." You know that section of your produce stand where your root vegetables are relegated to live in obscurity? While Rootville is thought to work well because it makes produce easy to find, root vegetables organized in this way tend to blend together in an unattractive heap, providing no impulse buys whatsoever.

Here are a few more tips to help your roots stand out:

  • Separate each root vegetable into individual containers, and place the containers throughout your wet stand, near some of your better-selling vegetables. A bowl full of purple-top turnips pops when surrounded by curly kale. Gold beets in a bed of Italian parsley also really stand out.
  • Make a wheel of parsnips rather than carrots to create an attractive but unexpected focal point. Place the wheel next to a display of broccoli, which will help the beige-colored parsnips garner attention.  
  • Share cooking tips. Beets are delicious when roasted and paired with chevre to create a sophisticated grilled-cheese sandwich. Put up a sign that suggests how easy it is to roast beets, and also mention how the greens can be steamed or sautéed.

With education and interesting displays, retailers can create a new world of "root" possibilities for customers.

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