Expert article_shelf life_food

10 ways independent supermarkets can extend the shelf life of fresh produce

In the fiercely competitive world of independent supermarkets, the ability to extend the shelf life of fresh produce is not just a practical skill but a pivotal business strategy. Offering customers longer-lasting, high-quality produce can not only bolster your reputation but also maintain price integrity, allowing for increased profit margins. Moreover, minimizing waste is environmentally responsible and financially savvy. This article delves into ten essential ways for independent grocers to optimize the shelf life of their fresh produce, from meticulous refrigeration practices to smart storage and display techniques, ensuring both economic and ecological sustainability.

Expert article_shelf life_fridge

The benefits of extending the shelf life of your fresh produce


  • Offer your customers better quality produce – By offering your customer fresh produce, you’re providing a higher quality product that appears and taste superior. Customers prefer to buy fresh produce that has a longer shelf life because they know they’ll have more time to consume it before it goes bad. You can prolong shelf life by storing your food away from heat and direct light sources which will minimise mineral degradation, allowing the food to maintain its nutritional value for longer.



Image of a woman picking fruit from the grocery store and holding an eco bag.



  • Maintain price integrity – by extending the life of your produce, you can maintain larger margins as fresher produce attracts a higher price point. Customers can feel confident in purchasing your product at full price knowing they are receiving a higher-quality product.


  • Reduced waste – By extending the life of fresh produce, you reduce the amount of produce that goes to waste, saving your business money.




10 ways to extend the shelf life of your fresh produce

Refrigeration is typically the highest consumer of energy in a supermarket. It also has a major impact on the lifespan of your produce so getting the best bang for buck out of your refrigeration is key.


Check your refrigerators


  • Temperature control – keep in mind that different perishable products have different temperature requirements. By keeping your food within the correct, food-safe temperature range, the shelf life will increase.

Food TypeTemperature
Dairy2°C to 4°C
Ripe fruits and vegetables 2°C to 4°C
Unripe fruit2°C to 4°C or 10°C to 15°C
Ethylene gas producing produce e.g., potatoes, onions, bananas10°C to 15°C
Carcass meats 1°C to 3°C
Fresh individual meat cuts 2°C to 4°C
Fresh poultry 2°C to 4°C
Fresh seafood−1°C to 2°C

Image of a person adjusting an analogue temperature controller.



  • Seal integrity – Check the seals of your fridges. If they are not intact, then it’s likely the cool air is escaping. Not only does this use more energy as the fridge has to work harder to maintain the correct temperature, it can also mean your produce suffers, dramatically shortening its shelf life. Contact your technician for advice on whether you can fix the seal or if it requires replacement.


  • Fridge positioning – Keep your fridges away from high and fluctuating temperatures and sunlight. For instance, avoid positioning them near a heat source or directly near a window that receives a lot of sun. Allow ample room for proper ventilation to prevent mould and consult your user manual for details.


  • Defrost protocols – Many modern fridges are equipped with an auto-defrost which ensures that the fridge is running efficiently and can maintain its rated energy consumption. If yours does not, you will have to manually defrost your fridge on a regular basis to ensure proper performance so your food can retain its desired integrity. Refer to your user manual for more details.


  • Fridge hygiene – Keeping your fridges clean and odour free is imperative for extending the shelf life of your fresh produce. Fridge odours can permeate fresh produce and cause it to spoil. Additionally, a dirty fridge is an unhealthy, non-food-safe environment.


If you feel it’s time to upgrade your refrigerator, be sure to seek out a newer, energy-efficient fridge. Newer models require less maintenance and operate more efficiently. Your food will stay fresher for longer, reducing food waste and lower maintenance costs save money as well.


Implementing proper storage and display


  • Strategically displayed and stored – Some fruits and vegetables release ethylene gas, which can speed up ripening and cause produce to spoil more quickly. These include apples, bananas, tomatoes, peaches and more. Aim to display ethylene-producing produce on a separate shelf or location.


Image of a grocery store fridge with fresh vegetables stocked in seperate compartments.


  • Package appropriately – Some fresh produce such as cucumbers, spinach, cabbage, and carrots should be stored in a perforated plastic bag.


  • Produce placement – Be sure to avoid crowding produce on display. Adequate circulation of air results in longer-lasting produce.



Image of a person about to grab a bunch of bananas.



  • Appropriate temperature for storage – Some types of fruits and vegetables are best chilled while others are best stored at room temperature. Potatoes and bananas, for instance, should be stored out of the fridge, at room temperature, while grapes, cherries, berries, and herbs should be refrigerated between 2°C to 4°C.


  • Discard spoiled food – Complete regular checks of the contents of the fridge and throw out any spoiled food because it can cause other produce to spoil more quickly. Try tiered or special pricing to sell products that are nearing expiry more quickly.



Stay on top of fresh produce and use strategies to mitigate losses


In conclusion, extending the shelf life of fresh produce in independent supermarkets offers multiple benefits, including providing customers with higher-quality products, maintaining price integrity, and reducing waste. By implementing a combination of temperature control, proper fridge maintenance, and strategic storage and display practices, independent grocers can achieve these objectives. Ensuring the freshness and longevity of your produce not only keeps your customers happy but also contributes to cost savings, ultimately strengthening the reputation and profitability of your businesses.


If it’s time to upgrade your refrigeration, check out the Bromic range or contact our friendly today.


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