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At Season's Peak keeps Publix consumers informed of season’s best

by Chip Carter | June 03, 2010
There was a time when shoppers knew exactly what to expect in the produce department of the grocery store. Citrus was a fall-through-spring treat. Berries had seasons.

These days, with global sourcing, most commodities are available year round through a non-stop rotation of local and imported products.

Four years ago, Lakeland, FL-based Publix Super Markets Inc. realized that given the constant supply, consumers could use some help tracking when commodities are at their best. The company launched a program called At Season's Peak that keeps customers apprised in-store, on-line and via e- mail or text message about the peak seasons for 17 different fruits and vegetables.

"Essentially, the program was developed to help remind customers of when fruits are at their peak for ripeness and flavor," said Maria Brous, director of media and community relations for Publix. “Since fruits and vegetables have become available year round, customers may forget the seasonality of their favorites.”

Now in its 80th year, Publix is a Fortune 500 company that operates more than 1,000 stores in five southeastern states. More than 700 are in Florida, and there are nearly 200 in Georgia, while South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee have two dozen to three dozen each.

On the At Season’s Peak section of the Publix web site, consumers can review the best of what is currently in season (watermelons were featured June 2) and sign up to receive e-mail or text message alerts about other commodities. In addition to updates about peak availability, Publix also provides customers with recipes and serving ideas, contests, and coupons as well as storage and handling tips.

Shoppers can elect to receive alerts about the peak season for any or all of 17 fruit and vegetable categories. Regularly featured items are berries, cherries, grapes, figs, pears, apples, plums and Pluots, peaches and nectarines, Athena cantaloupe, western honeydew, California Navels, corn, and Florida watermelons, vegetables, strawberries, tomatoes and citrus.

“Every fruit and vegetable has its own special time of year when it just tastes better,” reads the company’s consumer pitch on the web site. “When each bite is simply sweeter, juicier, tastier — that’s when you know it’s At Season’s Peak.”

“A section of our web site lists more than a dozen fruits and vegetables, describing how and where each is cultivated and when it is at maximum goodness,” Ms. Brous explained. “The site also describes the growing seasons for Florida watermelon, citrus and strawberries, along with several fruits and vegetables grown elsewhere.”

Ms. Brous said that the program “has been well received by our customers,” although she declined to give information about the number of consumers participating.