Thursday, July 14, 2011

#QR codes give Whole Food buyers information

Reedley-based Summeripe Worldwide Inc, an alliance of fruit packers, growers and shippers, is using QR codes on signs displayed with their peaches, plums and nectarines. Customers who scan the codes are taken to a site with recipes for peach bread pudding and photos of fruit on the trees.

"Engaging the customer has always been a challenge," said Chad Cotton, who handles marketing and IT for Summeripe. "This technology allows us to directly engage the customer while they're making a purchasing decision, which is huge."

A small sign for its snow angel white flesh peach, for example, has a QR code.

QR -- which stands for quick response -- codes also capitalize on the locally grown food movement, said the Delaware-based Produce Marketing Association chief operating officer Lorna Christie.

People care more these days about where their food comes from and how it's produced, she said.

Many customers believe their produce comes from large-scale corporate farms, but 50% of the association's members are family-run companies, Christie said. The organization is asking its members to get that message across using QR codes, she said. Summeripe does that by including photos of the farms on its site.

Retailers like the Whole Foods Market in Fresno are using QR codes for promotions. Signs around that store link to the store's Facebook and Twitter pages.

Customers can scan a QR code to get a coupon for the store's weekly Saturday early-bird special. They don't need to print it out; they just show their phones to the cashiers.

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