Case Study of the Week: A Dilemma in the Produce Department

Mar 21, 2022

Food Marketing

You are to assume the role of director of produce operations for City Foods, a regional grocery store chain with 50 locations. The vice president of merchandising has asked you to analyze a produce vendor and determine whether or not the chain should continue to sell its products.

Each year in the United States, over $160 billion worth of food goes to waste. Roughly 45% of food waste happens at the agricultural and post-harvest levels. Farmers must discard an extremely large quantity of produce due to imperfection. Food retailers, including City Foods, have extremely strict guidelines on the appearance of the fruits and vegetables sold in stores, so the ugly-looking produce is discarded.

In an attempt to reduce food waste and demonstrate corporate social responsibility, City Foods began selling produce from Homely Produce Company. Homely Produce Company takes the discarded imperfect produce discarded by farmers and packages them and sells them at a discounted price. City Foods felt that adding Homely Produce Company products to the produce department would not only offer shoppers discounts, but also make the City Foods brand nobler.

Unfortunately, shoppers are not interested in Homely Produce Company’s products. The crooked cucumbers, misshapen tomatoes, and oddly, colored apples have not been selling. Employees in the produce departments have said that the quality of the products is inconsistent, and they do not feel comfortable recommending the brand.

The vice president of merchandising wants you to analyze the situation and determine whether or not to continue selling Homely Produce Company products. The vice president wants you to specifically analyze:

  • City Foods’ brand promise vs. Homely Produce Company products
  • Value of Homely Produce Company products
  • Benefits/Consequences of continuing to sell Homely Produce products
  • Benefits/Consequences of removing Homely Produce products from stores


Randi Bibiano
Competitive Events Specialist

Randi Bibiano is DECA's competitive events specialist. In this role, she conceptualizes and authors role-play scenarios for the collegiate and high school division’s competitive events programs. She also manages DECA's online competitive events and serves as a liaison to volunteer efforts at DECA's educational conferences.

Discussion Questions

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Classroom Connection

Career CLuster:


Instructional Area(s):

Emotional Intelligence

Performance Indicators:

Identify company’s brand promise
Communicate core values of product/service
Explain reasons for ethical dilemmas
Recognize and respond to ethical dilemmas