This is how we roll: Inventory

Blog / This is how we roll: Inventory

Now that Fresh Truck has been on the road for a few years we get a lot of questions about how we make decisions about how to operate the market and design our programs. To answer these questions and many more we are starting a blog series called ‘This is how we roll’. This month we will start with how we decide what food to carry at the market.

Providing Fresh Truck shoppers a consistent variety of high-quality options is an essential part of our mission. We have a mobile operation which means our market drives across Boston in a vehicle with a limited retail display and even smaller storage. Unlike typical a grocery store (or even corner store), we don’t have a back stock area to store food and replenish items when we run out. For these reasons, we are diligent about selecting what we items we stock and how much we need to carry in order to best serve our shoppers.
In general, our inventory decisions are driven by feedback from our shoppers and the sales data we collect on a daily basis, but we there are also a few key insights that we consider:

  • Affordability – Can we offer this item at a price point that is accessible to our shoppers?
    • We choose to sell our food at the wholesale price we buy it for. This keeps our prices low and reduces barriers for families seeking out healthy, affordable food options.
    • Produce prices fluctuate with the season. Items like avocados, berries, and corn have short or inconsistent growing season can double or triple in price at different times of the year. Larger grocery operations are able to contract buy these products resulting in more stable pricing, but we will only carry them if they provide good value to our shoppers.
  • Nutritional value – Does this item provide nutritional value? Is it something we should eat more of?
    • We are always looking to carry fresh and culturally relevant food items that are delicious and provide the nutrients that we all need to lead healthy lives. However, it is not always a zero-sum equation that leads us to a strict definition of what is ‘healthiest’. We often provide options that meet people where they’re at when it comes to how they shop, cook and eat.
    • Late last summer we installed a refrigerator on the bus and were able to begin testing new items. One interesting outcome was carrying sparkling water. While it is not very nutrient dense it was really well received by our shoppers who were working to cut down on their soda consumption.
  • Space constraints – Does it take up a lot of space?
    • Space is more of a zero-sum equation. If we carry one item that takes up a lot of space it often means we have to discontinue another item to make room.
    • Watermelon is an item we get a lot of requests for. Carrying whole watermelons takes up so much space! To store enough watermelons we have to remove 2-3 items in its place. With our refrigerator, we hope to pilot pre-cut melons, which can save a lot of space, and provide a more convenient option for our shoppers.


Have another question about Fresh Truck and how our programs work? Leave it in the comments!

Blog / This is how we roll: Inventory

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