The statistics are in, and no matter who is running the survey or how long current trends stick around, one thing is certain: Purchasing habits have been changing by the day since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now more than ever, consumers want to know their fresh produce is safe.
According to a recent survey by The Packer:
20% of consumers said they are buying less fresh produce now and more frozen fruits and vegetables
12% of consumers said they are buying less fresh produce and more canned
28% of consumers said they would like access to “all the information” retailers have so they know stores are on top of things.
Regardless of trends, helping consumers make well-informed, rational buying decisions that support their health and wellbeing is a mission everyone can get behind.
As a grower-shipper of fresh table grapes, Jasmine Vineyards places the highest of priority on food safety. But the company also shares this responsibility with everyone who comes into contact with their grapes—from the field crew that harvests the varieties of grapes to shoppers who buy and bring home fresh grapes for their families to enjoy.
So, if food safety is everyone’s responsibility, why not share some of those good handling and washing practices that growers and grocers know so well?
Are consumers going straight to the source to guide their grocery shopping habits during pandemic times? Are they getting reliable information? Across the board, the answer is “not necessarily”—and during a time when shoppers need reassurance, going so far as to put up signposts (literally and figuratively) could be a welcome addition to the produce landscape. This helps ensure consumers have easy access to reliable, accurate information.
Some excellent information factoids to consider showcasing include:
Rinse fresh vegetables and fruits under running water just before eating, cutting, or cooking. Even if you plan to peel or cut the produce before eating, it is important to thoroughly rinse it first to prevent microbes from transferring from the outside to the inside of the produce. (10 Tips: Be Food Safe, ChooseMyPlate/USDA)
With the 2020 California grape season kicking off, Jasmine Vineyards anticipates a summer of delicious, immune system-boosting, fresh table grapes for the produce aisle. As one of many family ranches located in the agricultural cornucopia of the San Joaquin Valley, we are also a strong supporter of California-grown produce. For suggestions on how Jasmine Vineyards can help retailers and customers feel safe buying fresh, California-grown grapes, visit jasminevineyards.com/wholesale.
Field staff have been trained on social distancing. Field rows are 12′ in length with 7′ length vines, which creates natural markers for social distancing.
Safety masks have been ordered to supplement existing supplies. Staff have always worn facial coverings under food safety regulations and will have access to these supplies when needed.
Plexiglass is being installed between stations in the packing facility.
Plexiglass and signing pads are being installed in the front lobby.
Chlorine and alcohol solutions are being used before and after portable toilet use.
Weekly “Safety Procedure Updates and Best Practices” sessions are held to review and update procedures with staff, and to address any questions or concerns.
Jasmine Vineyards’ front lobby
Throughout the harvesting season, Jasmine Vineyards will continue to follow CDC, Cal OSHA and California Farmworker Foundation guidelines.
March 31, 2020:
As we monitor the global impact of COVID-19, Jasmine Vineyards is taking a number of steps to ensure uninterrupted service to our customers, while using best practices to maintain the safety and livelihood of our employees. These steps are summarized below.
We hope this document provides a transparent and succinct overview of our activities at Jasmine Vineyards in light of this pandemic, and that it offers some reassurance to our business partners, consumers, and the general public during this unprecedented time. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
Jasmine Vineyards, Inc. remains fully operational. The federal Department of Homeland Security has deemed farming an “essential” job that may continue under the shelter-in-place orders issued in California in March 2020. Our Delano, California operation maintains a business continuity plan that adheres to guidelines set forth by federal, state and local agencies. We have direct lines of communication with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Labor (DOL), California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) as well as our trade associations and partner organizations with the latest information on COVID-19. We are poised to adopt any new measures to maintain a safe work environment as this situation develops.
Education is the key to safety. The health and safety of our employees and our customers is our top priority. We have instructed employees and customers to stay home if they become sick. Jasmine Vineyards’ management team and crew supervisors are working with local agencies to ensure our employees practice CDC/WHO guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, with specific attention to Cal/OSHA Guidance on Requirements to Protect Workers from Coronavirus.
We are closely monitoring operations, supplementing new safety trainings, and posting and distributing high-impact signage to support these efforts. We continually emphasize social distancing and good hygiene practices in and around communal areas such as restrooms, washing stations and break areas. Additionally, the California Farmworker Foundation (CFF), our partner organization, has launched a Farmworker Hotline for anyone with questions on Coronavirus, or needing help connecting to resources and services.
Employee education signage for COVID-19 provided by California Farmworker Foundation (CFF)
Our business continuity plan ensures our customers experience no drop service from Jasmine Vineyards. To help ensure a safe and operational work environment across all departments and facilities – including customer service, sales, cold storage, billing, HR, shipping and fulfillment – we continually instruct employees to follow social distancing and hand-washing guidelines. We emphasize these practices especially during group meetings, lunch breaks, and at hand-washing stations.
We have contacted our outsourced service providers to ensure uninterrupted service for our staff. Our IT equipment, phone and internet are fully functional and we do not anticipate any disruptions in service.
In closing, we are working judiciously around the clock to ensure these added safety measures are met or exceeded. We pride ourselves on our high food safety record, premium grapes enjoyed worldwide, and our exceptional service. Now more than ever, you can count on Jasmine Vineyards to deliver the highest quality grapes you have come to expect. We will continue to update and distribute our Business Continuity Plan with the latest information.
Market research conducted by state and national fresh fruit associations can be used by retailers to significantly boost grape and other fresh produce sales.
Retailers won’t be alone in these efforts, either – the California Table Grape Commission is promoting California grapes all season long. Healthy snacking and grape-health research is reaching shoppers via television commercials, digital and social media, e-commerce platforms, radio spots and print magazines including Oprah, Real Simple, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Shape, People, and Food Network Magazine.
This marketing muscle behind California grapes makes an even greater incentive for retailers to take advantage of the following data-backed tips for boosting grape sales:
1. Register for the Annual Grape Display Contest – or Run Your Own.
Every July, the California Table Grape Commission (aka “Grapes from California”) throws its great grape display contest for retailers. Learn more at the Grapes from California retailer page. But even if you miss the contest, grape displays are proven to boost grape sales.
2. Go BIG.
When you do run your grape display, go big! Market research shows the size of your display makes a measurable sales difference.
As picture above, one of our retail customers in New Zealand uses signage and display materials provided by Jasmine Vineyards. Interested in obtaining POS materials for your own displays? Contact us!
3. Promote California Grown.
According to a 2019/20 U.S. Attitude and Usage Tracking Study, 92% of those surveyed would choose fresh grapes from California over imported grapes when priced the same. If California grapes were priced higher, 73% of those surveyed would still choose California over imported grapes. Since 99% of all table grapes are produced in California, promoting California Grown helps solidify this consumer preference in the produce aisle.
Badges like Jasmine Vineyards’ “Grown in California” and the California Table Grape Commission’s “Grapes from California” are visual reminders to incentivize shoppers to purchase California-grown produce.
A year of promoting food safety
This year, in addition to promoting the health benefits of grapes, Jasmine Vineyards is taking extra steps to help retailers and consumers feel safe buying fresh produce. Among these are:
The 2nd Annual Central Valley Pruning Competition took place Saturday, January 25 in Shafter, California. Organized by the California Farmworker Foundation (CFF), the event draws hundreds to cheer on highly skilled competitors armed with pruning shears and fierce determination. The event was also televised on Fresno Telemundo.
And the winners are…
Veronica Gonzalez of Four Star Fruit & Omar Meza of Fowler Packing
Sonia Arredondo of Jasmine Vineyards & Victor Cervantes of Jasmine Vineyards
Marisol Lopez of Fowler Packing & Jesus Sanchez of Jasmine Vineyards
Sonia, Victor and Jesus earned 3 of the top 6 spots in the competition. Go Team Jasmine!
We attempted to do just that with a “A Year in Pictures” – a compilation of highlights here at Jasmine Vineyards. (Notice those baby Great Greens at the beginning, compared to later in the video?!) We hope you enjoy.
The Last Pallet
And…nothing puts a bright, shiny bow on top of a busy grape season like this snapshot taken earlier this week:
Pictured with the very last pallet before it ships: Sara Diaz, Sales and Shipping; Aurora from Elite Transport; Karla Camacho, Shipping clerk; and Tony Barajas, Dock supervisor.
We want to thank YOU – our industry friends and consumers – for making 2019 a success.
Stay tuned for occasional updates during the dormant and pre-harvest season ahead.
From our family to yours, we wish you a happy, healthy holiday. ☃️🥂
The staff & crew at Jasmine Vineyards