Growing seasonal: how greengrocers can encourage customers to buy local

Customer matters

13 March 2017

Caused by a cold snap in Italy and heavy rainfall in Spain (where 80% of Europe's fresh veg grows), the recent vegetable shortage has made news across the country.

Greengrocers will be all too familiar with the chaos caused by a lack of lettuce, but you can avoid losing customers by encouraging loyalty. So we've got some ideas to help you promote fresh, seasonal produce to help encourage customers to shop locally.

Educate your customers

Create colourful printouts showing what produce is in season in Britain and when. Make a poster and stick it on your wall, and hand out smaller leaflets to customers when they ask about vegetables that are currently in season. You can find all the information you need on the Love British Food website.

Build new relationships

If you're not already sourcing your produce locally, it's worth going and speaking to local farmers about what they're growing and whether they could supply you. If you already have a good relationship with them, ask the farmers if they'd be open to coming into your shop to do talks and demonstrations about seasonal produce. This is a good way to make sales in the evening when you'd usually be closed. If you invite local food or lifestyle bloggers along you could get some added coverage for your shop.

Write some recipes

Many people will know a few recipes involving courgettes, spinach and iceberg lettuce, but fewer people might know exactly what to do with a celeriac. Write up your favourite recipes for weird and wonderful seasonal produce or simply search online for some interesting ideas. Add a note beside the price tag with the title of the recipe to encourage your customers to ask after it and have some printouts ready to hand out (or offer to email it over).

Sell veggie boxes

Some people are scared off seasonal produce because they're not sure what to buy. Putting together selection boxes featuring the best of the season is a quick and easy way to ensure your customers are getting their veggie fix. Pop a printout of what's seasonal into the box, as well as a guide to any strange looking vegetables like kohlrabi and a few of your favourite recipes. Sell them in-store so people can quickly grab a brimming box, and offer delivery for customers who work irregular hours and can't always drop by. 

Make recommendations

If a customer is looking for a vegetable that's tricky to get at this time of year, offer them alternatives. For example carrots and celeriac are great for spinning through a spiralizer. They might take longer to cook than courgetti but are still fantastic tossed with pesto. Things are a little harder for salad lovers, but thinly sliced red cabbage can be eaten raw and is delicious with a zingy dressing.

For best results, fill the spaces where their favourite veg would usually go with some suggested alternatives and write a little message offering advice.