ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Schnuck Markets took its long-term commitment to specialty produce up a notch with a two-day demo aimed at familiarizing its customers with some of the not-so-common items in the fresh aisle.
The presentation at one of its high-volume store here included food sampling, and giveaways and recipe cards, but most important were the cooking presentation and suggestions on using such things as elephant garlic, jicama and daikon, Schnuck officials said.
"As people travel and eat in restaurants abroad, they bring back tastes for exotic produce which they hope to see in their grocery stores. As Schnuck's brings [exotics] in, people try to expand their cooking horizons," said Mike O'Brien, vice president of product operations, at the 103-unit Schnuck's, prior to the demos on the weekend of June 28.
And Schnuck's produce buyer Bruce Von Oehsen confirmed later that everything went as planned with a good response from customers. He pointed out that Schnuck's commitment to specialty produce has been a long-range effort, and it has grown out of a solid relationship with Frieda's, a leading distributor and marketer of specialty produce based in Los Alamitos, Calif. Indeed, it was Frieda's president Karen Caplan, who was doing the demo cooking at Schnuck's. '
'She had about 30 or 40 items there. She looked like one of those chefs on TV," Von Oehsen said, adding that Caplan also was signing her latest cookbook, "The Purple Kiwi Cookbook," which is on sale at all the chain's stores.
"When you're talking about specialty items, you both know it will be a few years before either of you make money [on a particular product]," Von Oehsen said.
But the idea is to grow sales over a period of time and in the meantime bring some excitement to the department, he added.