How Do Grocery Stores Store Fruits And Vegetables?
Many people wonder how fruits in supermarkets and groceries stores stay fresh.
While it is indisputable that grocery stores keep their fruits fresh, it remains a mystery to many how these fruits are stored.
This is a logical concern due to the large quantities of perishables that supermarkets order. These are things that would quickly go bad in our homes.
So you might be wondering, how do grocery stores stores fruits and Vegetables? Well, most fruits in supermarkets are stored in large refrigerated coolers, somewhere in the back room.
Such fruits are pulled from the sales shelves each night. Keeping the fruits in the cooler overnight extends their shelf-life.
However, some fruits require no refrigeration and are therefore left on the shelves overnight.
While fruits in supermarkets seem to be very fresh, these fruits are not as fresh as you might think.
These are fruits that have not been harvested that day as they might appear!
Indeed, such fruits are harvested in large quantities and then stored in a refrigerator and then offered as the needs demand.
Still, these fruits are sometimes treated by the use of a chemical to keep them appear fresh.
For instance, apples are waxed to enhance their appearance and reduce deterioration.
You will be amazed to learn that some of the fruits you buy, thinking they have just been harvested, were harvested several months ago, sometimes even up to 12 months!
However, such preservation time is different according to different fruit requirements, with some fruits requiring as little as a few days while others will take even a year.
Must Fruits Be Preserved For Extended Periods In Supermarkets?
Yes. To reduce spoilage and make more profits, supermarkets have to store fruits for extended periods of time.
As you must be aware, it doesn’t take long before fresh fruits start to rot or decay. This can only be countered by the use of some form of preservation.
Indeed, this happens to be the only practical thing to do if you have year-round fruits availability in your supermarket.
This is not a new thing since food preservation was in use long before modern refrigeration technology.
After all, most fruits are seasonal, as you must be aware.
While fruits’ productivity is seasonal, we are used to buying fruits all year, regardless of whether they are in season or out of season.
Have you ever stopped to think where such fruits come from when they are obviously out of season? This is where refrigeration and other forms of preservation come in handy.
Consequently, as the demand for things like watermelon over winter increases.
Supermarkets are on the run devising new ways of preserving such fruits to offer to their customers when they need them.
For this reason, fruits are bought in large quantities and then stored due to the disconnect in produce.
Without this strategy, you would see fruits in supermarkets when they are in season and not any other time.
Refrigeration and preservation slow down the ripening process, practically altering the ripening process.
Therefore, we can say that the fruits do not ripen naturally.
But you might wonder, are fresh fruits in supermarkets healthy and safe to consume? Yes, these fruits are safe for consumption.
Additionally, some experts argue that nutrient loss is not significant. Therefore, you might not need to worry about that for now.
But you might be asking, what if the fruits are not sold after some time? Well, it is interesting to learn how grocery stores deal with unsold fruits.
Are The Bananas We Take Produced Locally?
No. While bananas seem to be very fresh and inviting, it is not funny that many people are unaware that they are from far-away lands.
Indeed, bananas are not grown in most areas in the United States.
Since we cannot produce to meet our demand, most of the bananas we eat are imported and treated to remain fresh once they get here.
The leading exporters of bananas are Ecuador, Costa Rica, Columbia, Honduras, and Guatemala.
In many years, we consume the highest number of bananas than anywhere else in the world.
After being harvested, the bananas are imported here, where they are washed and packed in boxes.
These boxes are later sent in either trucks or ships equipped with refrigerators. Since the bananas are washed and refrigerated, the bananas can’t ripen on transit.
However, once they are almost arriving at their destinations, they are forcefully ripened using ethylene gas.
The process happens where the bananas are stored in sealed rooms.
The gas will stay there for a stipulated time, after which the room will be heated.
As a result of the heat, they ripen and are delivered to respective supermarkets and grocery stores. This is where you will buy your “fresh” bananas.
Are All Fruits In The Supermarket Kept In Cold Storage?
No, some fruits cannot be kept in cold storage. Indeed, if you try to keep fruits cold and expect them to ripen when you want them to, you will be disappointed.
Refrigeration has been with us for some time, and this has made us know that there are some things you can never safely keep in a refrigerator.
Through the same knowledge, it is possible to understand that there is a limit to the duration for which fruits can be stored in the refrigerator.
However, sometimes refrigeration comes in handy after buying too many avocados, and you want to slow down the ripening process.
I have found that avocados are kept in refrigerators before they start getting mushy.
On the other hand, some fruits include lime, plums, oranges, lemons, clementine, and other citrus fruits that are best kept on the floor displays.
Other fruits like berries, avocados, apples, and pears do not require refrigeration. Such fruits, even after being refrigerated, will still ripen.
Unfortunately, they tend to become softer, and the flavor gets impacted as well.
Do Cut Fruits Remain Fresh In Supermarkets?
Yes. When fruit gets bruised or over-ripened in the display shelves, they are culled. Practically, this is a way to reduce the amount of fruit that goes to waste.
But interestingly, these fruits have their prices raised per pound! You would expect that the price drops as this is fruit headed to the waste after all.
But supermarkets will hear none of this. Indeed, they strategically hike the price to eliminate any suspicion that the fruit might be getting bad soon. What an irony!
Ideally, it is correct to say that cut fruits are already sometimes past their prime.
Indeed, refrigeration is a sure way of ensuring that the natural ripening process and consequent ripening are slowed down to a few weeks or months.
There is a difference in the rates at which different fruits ripen.
While some fruits will not require refrigeration, most cut fruits will need to be kept upright refrigerated cases ready for sale.
As they are already under refrigeration, there is no need for anything else to be done apart from routine checks for molds.
However, some cut fruits like apples are simply treated or coated with edible coatings, supplemented with anti-browning agents.
The FDA has deemed the use of these chemicals as safe and acceptable to be eaten.
Do Grocery Stores Throw Away Spoilt Food And Fruits?
Yes. Every year, over 43 billion pounds of waste fruits and foods from grocery stores are thrown away.
While most of these foods are technically edible, most grocery stores will still throw them away. Grocery stores fear costly litigation due to vague laws that regulate expired foods.
While most of such food would be better off donated to food banks, this is rarely the case as grocery stores consider the landfill as the less costly and safe way to get rid of the food.
I wish to point out that it is within the law for grocery stores to donate expired food.
This is because while the expired date might be passed, the food is still safe for use, according to the USDA.
Specifically, they say that the quality of food deteriorates after the passage of the date, but the products remain wholesome as long as they do not exhibit any signs of spoilage.
Consequently, it is the responsibility of food banks and other charitable organizations as well as consumers, to make their evaluation as far as the quality of such food donations before they distribute them.
If there are no noticeable changes in wholesomeness, the food is safe for consumption.
Despite that, many grocery stores are hesitant to donate some items to avoid getting sued due to our litigious society.
This problem should be addressed as, technically, we deny deserving people some help that would have gone a long way in helping their already deplorable states.
This is the reason grocery stores don’t donate all they could go to food banks and charitable organizations.
However, perhaps, grocery stores can look at their legal protection under the law stipulated in the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.
This can come in handy to enable grocery stores to donate all they can without the fear of litigation.
Unfortunately, this law takes away any immunity if there would be any death resulting from the consumption of expired food donations.
Do Grocery Stores Donate Food?
Yes, they donate food. Grocery stores donate a wide range of food, including Day-old bread and pastries, damaged but not moldy produce items, and dented cans and boxes.
However, donations of things like deli foods from hot or cold salad bars are rarely donated.
It is essential to point out that many grocery stores re-purpose good but not expired food when it doesn’t meet the threshold for display.
I am referring to things like bruised apples used to make juice sold at a higher price.
Again, a bag of rolled oats with a torn label will be cut and put into the bulk bins.
It is critical to understand that the most donation-conscientious grocery stores include Kroger, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, Aldi, and Target.
On the other hand, the worst of these are (in terms of performance) include Trader Joe’s, Publix, and Costco.
Unfortunately, Trader Joe’s and Aldi belong to the same family. It is indisputable that there are scores of other chains that have been left out of this discussion.
Therefore, if you are interested in knowing about a particular grocery store, I would advise you to find out from your grocery store what their food donation policies entail.
Do Homeless Shelters Take Expired Food?
Yes and No. since different homes have different policies, it is hard to get an absolute answer to this question.
However, many homes are comfortable taking shelf-stable non-refrigerated canned, boxed, and bottled items.
They do this as a way to safeguard their populations from food-borne illness.
Indeed, there are scores of homeless shelters that accept expired food products.
But you might wonder why in the first place, grocery stores order more food than they can sell and then have to struggle to dispose of it once expired.
The truth is that grocery stores do not deliberately over-order to throw away products.
This would be unthinkable, especially considering that they have very thin profit margins of about 2%.
This would be economic suicide, and it can be accepted.
Ideally, they try to ensure that their shelves are abundant and full while meeting and not exceeding their set shrink targets.
These shrink targets can be as low as 3% of the total.
Again, the truth is that, In short, food displays sell much better when they look full.
This is why some good merchandisers will resort to using dummy risers and other things to enhance the appearance of fullness.
This can be said to be effective as the appearance is achieved without over-committing too much product.
Supermarkets store fruits using refrigeration and treatment. This is meant to slow down ripening and maintaining flavor.
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