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Produce QA Consultants offers value by reducing shrink

Produce QA Consultants, headquartered in Rochester, NY, offers a unique service that can help companies cut shrink and improve quality assurance from the time a truck backs up to the dock to when the customer pays for produce at the register, and even beyond.

George Seifert, founder and president, told The Produce News that his service is George-SeifertGeorge Seifertunlike any other offered in the produce industry today.

“Our primary service is to help improve a distribution center’s loss from shrink,” said Mr. Seifert. “Our clients are retailers, wholesalers, distributors, grower-shippers, foodservice operations and any other company that receives and moves fresh produce. We focus on inbound produce, warehouse efficiencies, shipping and banana ripening, and we offer training seminars.”

He added that a company’s investment is well worth the cost of Produce QA Consultants services, and those costs are returned quickly and easily with increased sales, lower shrink and higher profits.

Mr. Seifert explained that his primary responsibility was in produce inspection during his more than 25 years of experience with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture and Wegmans Food Markets Inc. in Western New York.

“When I joined Wegmans, there were no detailed produce QA programs in place,” he said. “I was responsible for developing and implementing a state-of-the-art program that continues to keep the company as one of the top produce retailers to this day.”

Mr. Seifert left Wegmans in 2009 to start his own company. He spent the better part of the following two years researching and organizing for his start up. The company was formed in the fall of 2011.

“During my research, I learned that there is no other company that offers the services that I do,” he said. “And I can do it anywhere in the country or world for that matter. Every company has different needs, and each program must be individualized specifically to fill those needs.”

As an example of the services he offers, Mr. Seifert explained that shrink is where his company can offer clients the largest value. He knows the technical end and the specifics of fruit and vegetable defects, and he can educate staffs on how to reduce their shrink by identifying them.

“Take bananas as a perfect example,” he said. “It is the most perishable item in produce. It has the highest shrink level but it is one of the top-selling items in all grocery stores. It represents 1 percent of total store sales, which is huge. The average shrink on bananas is 5 to 7 percent. At Wegmans, we averaged between 2 and 2.5 percent, so this was a huge savings.”

He said that if majors like Walmart were to reduce their shrink to this percentage level on a national scale it would account for huge numbers in savings.

Mr. Seifert said that he is now connected with FreshXperts, a consortium of consultants with varying produce expertise, headquartered in Lee’s Summit, MO, as an associate, explaining that the services he can offer will benefit both companies as they can offer multiple services.

He understands that food safety plays a major role in produce movement and sales. And because the food-safety focus is so huge, he is in the process of training for his food-safety auditor certification, which will be an added benefit to his clients.

But he also focuses strongly on quality, freshness and high standards — things that consumers can see when they purchase their fresh produce.

“Our main service at Produce QA Consultants is to help improve your distribution centers’ QA programs to give you a better competitive edge in this extremely challenging business,” said Mr. Seifert. “If your produce sales are $5 million per week and Produce QA Consultants can reduce your shrink by as little as even 0.02 percent, your company would save $100,000 every week. Multiply that by 52 weeks a year and you will quickly comprehend the value we can offer.”

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