While thinking about what to cook for lunch or dinner, while having breakfast and enjoying your favourite bowl of yogurt and kiwi, you would never think about how the products get to the supermarket shelves, would you?
Probably not and this is why I decided to describe the whole process for fruits and vegetables. Why? Because I have been following it since I was a child, and now as a translator, I specialise in this business area and find it tremendously interesting.
How did I start following the process?
My grandfather, a fruit and vegetable trader since the 1950’s in Portugal and the founder of my family business, once told my father that his grandchildren had to know how he did it. It goes without saying that my father followed his steps and the business kept on going thanks to his work. Later on, my brother started working in the firm, unloading cargoes from trucks and I had my first direct contact in the process, through fruit selection. Peaches, apples and pears arrived in the morning and were selected and packed before shipment to supermarkets.
Selection is still part of the job, but nowadays it goes through a more complex procedure, which includes packing machines, packing rules, and strict HAACCP(1) quality control.
How does fruit get to supermarket shelves, after all?
The first step of this long journey of fruit trading is getting in touch with selected suppliers. Enquiring fruit quality is crucial. Next, come ordering and shipping. Transport can be air, sea or land but the vast majority of products arrive from land and air transportation. Everyday, new cargo comes in, and products are quality controlled, stocked(2) registered and cold stored.
When it comes to selling fresh produce(3), the first procedure is to inform clients we have them in stock. Clients email daily orders and the trader selects and packs the products. Fruit selection is crucial since fruits and vegetables are perishable goods, that easily get bruised with handling.
Transportation channels take care of deliveries, and this is how they reach supermarket distribution centres.
At that final point, supermarkets quality controls the products, supply their chains, store them in shelves and sell them. Consumers select them according to colour, aspect or flesh tenderness.
This is just a slice of the whole procedure, but you now have a wider idea.
1)HAACCP - Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point
2)Stock – Merchandise, goods, items for sale
3)Fresh produce – Group of farm-produced crops and goods, including fruits and vegetables