KANSAS CITY, MO. — Ashley Nickle, produce industry consultant and founder/host of The Produce Retail Podcast, has published the first-ever report on produce managers, ‘State of the Produce Manager: A Guide to Investing in the People Who Empower Your Department.’

“Nothing happens without the produce manager,” said Mike Roberts, vice president of produce operations for Springdale, Ark.-based Harps Food Stores. “It’s a skilled position and one that doesn’t get enough recognition. Produce managers are vitally important to the operations of any grocery store, so any training or resources we can provide for them, it’s a huge benefit to not only the individual but to the company as a whole.”

“Our goal with this report is to kickstart conversations within individual organizations about what the next level of engagement with and empowerment of produce managers looks like for them,” Nickle said. “The upside here is enormous.”

For the report, Nickle surveyed more than 200 produce managers on these top five topics:

  1. How much leeway they have to make decisions for their department.
  2. Whether they believe they have the necessary resources to serve customers well.
  3. In which areas they want more education or training.
  4. How they feel about their work.
  5. What they know and want to know about the career path opportunities available to them.

Nickle’s research found a correlation of higher job satisfaction between the following:

  • Produce managers with at least some leeway to make decisions for their department.
  • Produce managers with at least some understanding of career path opportunities with their organization.

“One of the areas explored in the survey was how much leeway produce managers have to make decisions for their departments,” Nickle said. “Those who had at least some leeway tended to like their jobs more and were more likely to recommend their jobs, feel they have sufficient resources and plan to stay in their role at least four years.”

Leeway infographicSource: Ashley Nickle Growth Strategies LLC

Leeway and Job Satisfaction infographicSource: Ashley Nickle Growth Strategies LLC

Lack of Leeway and Job Dissatisfaction infographicSource: Ashley Nickle Growth Strategies LLC

The survey also found that produce managers are eager to receive additional training and education, whether they are new to the industry or veterans.

Nickle said The Produce Retail Podcast expands on the report’s findings and dives even deeper through discussions with produce industry members and outside experts. It can be found on Apple and Spotify.

“From my early days in the industry, the produce executives I learned from always emphasized the importance of the produce manager, and I’ve never forgotten that,” Nickle said. “The produce managers I’ve been fortunate to meet over the years are some of the most resourceful, hard-working, enthusiastic people I know, and I’m confident that investments made in them are ones that will yield remarkable returns. I can’t wait to hear what retailers are doing now and are doing next to continue empowering these professionals.”

Retailers interested in the free ‘State of the Produce Manager’ report can email Nickle at ashley@nicklegrowthstrategies.com or contact her on LinkedIn.