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The Produce Marketing Association's I Know Produce on-line reference library has completed a major refresh to increase its value to wholesalers, foodservice companies and retailers who are seeking to increase produce sales, lower their shrink and get the most value for their produce investment.

I Know Produce now delivers information on nearly 200 produce commodities and more than 2,800 varieties, making it the one of the more comprehensive and inclusive list of items available. The interactive on-line library provides global availability to help quickly source product, consumer- friendly product information, nutritional data to help with labeling and customer inquiries, and storage and handling information to help reduce shrink.

"It's no secret that produce costs are soaring worldwide. Both retailers and consumers are feeling the impact," PMA President Bryan Silbermann said in a Jan. 20 press release. "It is now more important than ever to make sure that quality, reliable fresh fruit and vegetable information is available. With the right stock, storage, handling and marketing, our customers can extend the life of their produce and pass on more value to their consumers."

Recent research indicates the power that the produce department -- and a knowledgeable produce staff -- play in influencing consumers' store choice and purchase decisions, Mr. Silbermann noted in the press release.

According to a survey recently conducted for PMA's Consumer Research Online, 57 percent of consumers said that they have changed supermarkets for better fruits and vegetables. Almost half of shoppers who have some interaction with produce department staff said that they are more likely to buy more fruits and vegetables based on that interaction. If retailers can engage a fraction of those shoppers who said they had no contact with produce department staff at all, they will foster customer relationships that can also be measured in dollars and cents.

"Every piece of reliable information helps retailers manage their produce department better and strengthen their customer relationships," Mr. Silbermann added in the press release. "I Know Produce is a source they can turn to time and time again for guidance."

A one-year subscription to I Know Produce is $399 to PMA members, $798 to non-members; access is unlimited and available to everyone in a subscribing company. A free 14-day trial is available at www.iknowproduce.com.