Interview with Jean Cartel, Fresh Produce Buyer at Carrefour

In the dynamic world of supermarket retail, sourcing fresh produce is both an art and a science. Jean Cartel, a seasoned Fresh Produce Buyer at Carrefour, shares insights into the meticulous process of selecting and procuring the best fruits and vegetables for one of the world’s leading supermarket chains. Riad Beladi, Editor of International Supermarket News Magazine with 30 years of experience working with supermarkets, joins us to delve into the intricacies of sourcing, the importance of supplier relationships, and the challenges faced in ensuring quality and freshness.

Q1: How do you source your products for Carrefour?

Jean Cartel: At Carrefour, we have a dedicated sourcing department that plays a crucial role in our supply chain. We work with a comprehensive list of both local and international suppliers to ensure we can offer a diverse range of high-quality produce to our customers. This means building strong relationships with farmers and producers around the world, as well as closely monitoring market trends and seasonal variations. Our goal is to source the freshest and most sustainable products available.

Q2: What criteria do you use to select your suppliers?

Jean Cartel: Selecting the right suppliers is a critical part of our job. We look for partners who share our commitment to quality, sustainability, and ethical practices. This includes assessing their farming practices, certifications, and their ability to consistently meet our standards. We also consider factors such as the supplier’s track record, their capacity to scale up during peak seasons, and their responsiveness to any issues that might arise. Additionally, we value long-term relationships built on trust and mutual benefit.

Q3: What are the biggest challenges you face in sourcing fresh produce, and how do you overcome them?

Jean Cartel: One of the biggest challenges in sourcing fresh produce is dealing with the variability of agricultural production, which can be affected by weather conditions, pests, and other unforeseen factors. To overcome this, we maintain a diversified supplier base, which helps mitigate risks associated with crop failures or shortages. Another challenge is ensuring the freshness and quality of produce during transportation and storage. We address this by implementing strict cold chain logistics and regular quality checks at various stages of the supply chain. Lastly, meeting the growing demand for organic and sustainably sourced produce requires constant adaptation and innovation, which we achieve by staying ahead of industry trends and investing in sustainable practices.

Q4: How do you ensure the quality and freshness of produce in such a large-scale operation?

Jean Cartel: Ensuring quality and freshness is a top priority for us. We have stringent quality control measures in place, including regular inspections and audits. Our logistics network is designed to maintain the cold chain from farm to store, which is crucial for preserving freshness. We also work closely with our suppliers to implement best practices in harvesting and post-harvest handling.

Q5: How important is sustainability in your sourcing strategy?

Jean Cartel: Sustainability is incredibly important to us. We are committed to sourcing produce that is not only fresh and high-quality but also produced in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner. This means prioritising suppliers who use sustainable farming practices, reducing waste, and ensuring fair labour practices.

Jean Cartel’s insights reveal the complexity behind the seemingly simple act of buying fresh produce. Through strategic sourcing, rigorous supplier selection, and adaptive problem-solving, Carrefour ensures that its customers have access to the highest quality fruits and vegetables. This commitment to excellence, coupled with a strong focus on sustainability, is what keeps Carrefour at the forefront of the supermarket industry, continually meeting and exceeding customer expectations.

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