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On the case: fruit-and-vegetable judges rule on freshness

The F&V judges – Sustainability at ALDI North

Judges that scrutinise apples and cucumbers? They really exist! In Belgium, we train warehouse employees to become “fruit-and-vegetable judges”. As experts on freshness, they play an important role in meeting our customers’ high expectations.

 

At first glance, the kohlrabi in the large green crates looks fresh and delicious. But is it really? To find out, employees in the receiving area at our distribution centres have to look very closely. Do the vegetables have the right level of ripeness? Are they damaged? Are the leaves crisp and green? A new training programme was introduced in Belgium in 2017 to ensure that colleagues there inspect fruit and vegetables as critically as an outside expert. The goal is to get employees more excited about freshness and quality and to expand their knowledge. After an initial four-day training module, the employees take part in another module at a later date.

However, the quality chain at ALDI North does not start with the receiving department at the distribution centre. The employees in the Buying department set clear specifications for our suppliers before this stage. Consider grapes, for example. From their condition to sugar content and delivery temperature, everything has been precisely determined. We also require a social evaluation from suppliers when it comes to fruit and vegetables. As a result, we help to build awareness of good labour standards among the producers.

Once the fruit and vegetables have arrived at the store, the employees there perform another check to make sure the quality is good. Two fruit-and-vegetable specialists at every regional company ensure that the store employees are real experts on freshness. In future, plans call for having specially trained employees in charge of produce at the stores inspect the fruit and vegetables that are delivered and put on display. We are providing extensive training to this end in 2018.

“Fruit and vegetables must be fresh and crisp. That is just as important to us as it is to our customers,” says Kilian De Geyter, senior buyer in Belgium. “Through our programme to train employees to become fruit-and-vegetable judges, ALDI Belgium has generated even greater emphasis on this issue among employees.”

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