The Fruit Retail element of the fresh produce value braid is the essential link between producer and consumer. Retailing is the process of selling goods to the end user. As such, retailers have a critcial function within the process that ultimately gets fruits and vegetables into our collective stomachs.
From an economics perspective, retalers have a very simple function. Their role is to offer for sale goods in such quantities that match the purchasing capacity of their customers.
Translated into 'produce speak'....
The typical fruits & vegetables customer does not want to buy an 18kg carton of bananas but would like to be able to purchase bananas weiging around 1 kg (4-6 fruit) once or twice a week. In exchange for that level of convenience, the customer is typically prepared to acknowledge that the service provided by the retailer attracts a fee sufficient in size to enable the retailer to make a profit from the transaction - and thus a living.
The role of the retailer has evolved over the centuries and it continues to change. The most common fruit retail formats today are Farmers Markets, Greengrocers & Fruiterers, Supermarkets, Hypermarkets, Roadside Stalls and the Web.
One of the big debates within the fresh produce industry gobally revolves around the leverage retailers are able to achieve today - which is not something always considered in a positive light by the other parts of the fresh fruits & vegetables value chain such as growers and wholesalers.
The corporate retailer, the supermarket operators, argue in return that the capital required to service the consumer is such that increased retailer leverage is critcial to ensuring food supply works.
Fruits & vegetables retailing is a part of the perishable food retail sector, along with the meat, dairy and delicatessen categories. The common denominator amongst these categories is that the product needs to move at a very steady and direct pace through the supply chain to the consumer and that refrigeration is required in one form or another.
Fresh produce retailing varies however from other perishable food retailing is so far as that fresh fruits & vegetables do not require further processing before they reach the fruit retail outlet or at the retail outlet;i.e., oranges or apples are eating as a whole whereas as a piece of steak started its life as a steer!