Archive for January 2009


Using charity as a tool to achieve product standardization in fruit and vegetables in a country like India.

Every fresh produce grade sells in India. But not usually separately but as a mixed grade which is a nightmare to marketers. I want to use charity as a tool to achieve product standardization in fruit and vegetables in India. Any ideas on how to go ahead to build up a commercial project around this. Charity in broad sense means here using / selling low grade but perfectly edible cull fresh produce to low income groups / markets and marketing the rest to quality conscious high income buyers.

Objective is to achieve standard quality produce without any taking away any incentive away from suppliers which are small and medium farmers in our case. Premise is simple. All stakeholders need to be incentivized.

Stakeholder No. 1 – (Farmers) – They get full price (product plus sorting /grading charges) for their harvest at the production source. Full price is what they’ll get the wholesale market for their unsorted produce. 

Stakeholder No 2 – (Rich folks / Large Companies) – Charity givers – Providing inferior grade but perfectly edible to poor groups meet their social and community objectives.

Stakeholder No 3 – (Government) – Can provide some tax breaks to rich people / large companies while providing cheap / free nutrition to poor.

Stakeholder No 4 – (Retailers) – They get all standardized / saleable products reducing dump / shrink.

Stakeholder No 5 (Fresh produce Industry) – Standardized produce ensures better price discovery with more transparency and lesser price volatility. In fact industry shall be biggest winner of all.  

As Stakeholder No 6, if I put up my time, money and effort in operationalising the concept, I also must get compensated for the effort.  Therefore, the answer I’m looking for is – How to operationalise whole concept. Thought of using Internet for the purpose, at least to create an interface for all stakeholders except Government) but deciding against it because of almost negligible Internet penetration in rural India. More ideas that don’t add cost to the concept are welcome. 

Fresh Retailer’s dilemma concludes…

Well, you can stop the bleeding only when you know where to apply band-aid. With first step taken by capturing data on where all the category is bleeding, balm can be applied to target areas to bring the shrink down.

In corporations quite often it is not possible to even start the healing process without getting a sign off from bottom to the top. Everyone has to know and acknowledge that they own part of the problem. When you start delving deeper, you will find that department lime Commercial and IT which apparently look remotely linked with Freshness issue, contributes a lot towards shrinkage. (Ask me – I’ll tell you how). Only this way it is possible to crack the issue. Next step would be to nominate someone who is now responsible for freshness or dump/shrink- end to end – period. It is also important that this freshness officer reports to the chief executive and is suitably empowered. It is pertinent to note here that this freshness executive is bound to ruffle many feathers. Organisations which thrive on polticking and back-biting shall ensure that this freshness officer is moved out of scene. So it is important to create safeguards in this regard. The scene now set for implementing and executing the crated agenda and thereafter measure and contol the losses. This approach shall sure work than bringing in cold chain and costly technologies. Good luck fresh produce retailers. You still have a long way to go….