SAN FRANCISCO -- The success of the first workshop offered in the Year 2000 series by the newly expanded San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market means more will be planned soon, according to market officials.
Some 30 retailers attended the inaugural seminar, Merchandising Organics: Building a Profitable Organic Produce Program, said Michael Janis, general manager.
"We're trying to add value for our customers. This training is designed for smaller retailers," he said. "It was a very participatory workshop and we're very pleased with the results. Our goal is to offer workshops quarterly."
Janis said workshops draw on an information-exchange program set up by the market that brings expert presenters from agricultural commissions, boards and produce associations. Since the market is open from midnight to 10 a.m., the workshops are purposely planned around the hours retail produce participants usually work.
"We started very early in the morning by touring the market. We spent some time in the organic houses," he said. "Then we started the sit-down part of the workshop at 7 a.m. We had them out of there by 10:30 a.m. so they could be back in their stores by noon."
Although the San Francisco area may lead the country in sales of organic produce, Janis said, even local markets recognize there is room to grow.
"We focused on the cross-over retailer, those who are doing some organic sales but realize they could do more," Janis said. "They see tremendous opportunity for growth in the category."
Topics covered in the workshop included a review of organic produce in today's marketplace, consumer trends, and information about how to develop an optimum mix of conventional and organic produce.
Besides hearing from growers and wholesalers, participants engaged in a lively question-and-answer period with presenters and went home with a binder full of information to help them create and expand their organic-produce programs.
The 280,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center includes 55,000 square feet of new space that was opened in March on the 25-acre site.
The facility offers refrigerated storage and on-site processing, and houses 30 wholesalers and distributors of produce from around the world, some of whom supply multiple-category organic items.