Meet our senior produce buyer, Jeff Anderson
Walk into any of our stores and you can’t help but notice the beautiful, vibrant fruits and veggies that fill our produce departments. Did you know a lot of our produce is sourced locally? Senior Produce Buyer Jeff Anderson explains our commitment to partnering with local growers.
Q: What does a produce buyer do?
A: At Lunds & Byerlys we have a highly skilled team of buyers who are experienced in all areas of product procurement. Each of the buyers tends to specialize in a specific area of expertise and products, which helps us keep on top of the ever-changing market. As a produce buyer, I work hard to source new, unique items from around the world, and I also try to find the highest quality produce available right here at home.
Q: Why is it important to partner with local growers?
A: Lunds & Byerlys maintains a broad commitment to partnering with local growers. This commitment is important because it supports local farmers and provides you fresh, seasonal produce. On a personal level, supporting local growers has always been an important belief as many of my family members were farmers all their lives. What’s more, along the way I’ve developed longtime friendships with many of our growers that date back 20 years or more. Our relationships are so important because we know we are there to support each other. We need them and they need us – it’s as simple as that.
Q: How do you find local growers to partner with?
A: One of the most exciting parts of working for Lunds & Byerlys is our terrific reputation. Throughout the year I receive many calls from local growers who know about our commitment to sourcing locally grown products and want to get their produce into our stores. In addition to these calls, we are constantly seeking out new sources for all kinds of items, particularly specialty items that only one grower produces.
Q: Lunds & Byerlys recently won the Minnesota Grown Retailer of the Year award. What does this mean?
A: We are very proud of this award, and feel fortunate to have been selected as the Minnesota Grown Retailer of the Year for the fourth year in a row by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. We received this award because we consistently provide quality produce and feature Minnesota Grown products in our stores. This illustrates the way in which we, as a company, fully embrace and support the Minnesota Grown concept. We work to make sure you know where your food is coming from by posting photos and stories of our local growers and their families near the products they provide. We also host Meet the Grower events where you can meet with them face-to-face to hear their stories and learn more about their products. These experiences help complete the full circle of the farm to store experience in a unique, enriching way.
Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?
A: I really enjoy the fresh products I work with; I never tire of eating fresh fruits and watching the produce change with each season. I also really enjoy discovering new items. Many of our selections start as requests from our customers while they’re traveling the world. They find something they like abroad, come home, and ask their Lunds & Byerlys produce manager if they can find it for them. It’s always fun when we can get something new into the stores for a customer.
Q: How did you start in this business?
A: I’ve been in the produce business for over 44 years. I started, as many of us have, as a part-time employee during high school. After working in the produce department of a grocery store, I was soon promoted to produce manager where I learned the “art” of the produce department. I’ve always enjoyed the visual aspects of the produce department and the beauty one can bring out of it by arranging products in a certain way.
I began my career with Lunds & Byerlys in 1983 as a produce manager. In 1994 I was asked to become a buyer, and I’ve enjoyed this position ever since!
Q: Anything else we should know about local produce?
A: It’s always a challenge for any grower to be successful given all of the variables that are thrown their way on a daily basis, especially in Minnesota with the constantly changing weather. It’s easy for of us as consumers to forget how the crazy weather we had a week, a month, or sometimes even a year ago can have an effect on the produce in stores today. When it’s all said and done, Mother Nature is still the boss!