In the second part of WGB's new European store tour series, Anne-Marie Roerink shares highlights from Amsterdam's Marqt, a 22-store, farmers market-style chain that is highly focused on delivering a fresh, organic and sustainable food supply. Its positioning is focused on the health of the consumer, environmental sustainability and corporate citizenship.
The majority of Marqt stores are in Amsterdam, with additional locations in other large cities on the West Coast of the Netherlands, all in affluent, urban areas. The chain encourages shoppers to pick seasonal items from local growers, to recycle and to emphasize sustainable production, including packaging and transportation.
Marqt heavily emphasizes the trusted and long-standing relationships it has built with its partners in meat, seafood, produce and other areas. The chain invests in its supplier partners to create even more sustainable items together. All throughout the store, shoppers can find information about the producer and tips from the farmers/growers on things such as flavor and preparation.
Marqt calls out its fair price system to the consumer, explaining its belief in equal cooperation between suppliers and the retail store. As such, the chain does not purchase below the cost of production and will not offer items focused on mass production at low prices.
While the store offers grocery staples, the majority of the assortment is local and/or organic. The merchandising gives a farmers market feel. If packaged, portion sizes are small. While this is not unusual in the Netherlands due to the much higher trip frequency compared with the U.S., the store appears to be focused on smaller households in most of their offerings.
Throughout the store, signs connect shoppers with the farmers, fish suppliers or produce growers. Beyond stating the source, the signage focuses on price points combined with grower/farmer-provided tips on areas such as flavor or preparation. The sign displayed here reads:
Tips From Our Growers
Washed Spinach: Washed, so immediately ready to add to your salad. Or, use it in a smoothie, soup or stew.
Organic Winter Color Carrot Mix: The different colors are not just for show, but each have their own flavor as well.
Organic Chest Nut Mushrooms: Delicious nut-like flavor. Taste great raw or use them in pasta sliced thinly.
Meal Starters: Meal Kits Without the Meat and Produce
Right above the meat case, Marqt merchandises meal starters, which have all the ingredients for meals such as Tikka Masala. Under the “additionally need” column, these meal starters point out what else to buy in fresh meat and produce to complete the meal.
Our Partners in Meat
Directly above the meat case, farmer partners are listed by protein type: chicken, lamb, calf, venison, beef and pork. It shows the name and location of the farm(s) along with the raising circumstances (such as whether the livestock has access to the outside) and the breed.
Tips From the Fish Supplier/Farmer
Much like in produce and meat, Marqt leverages signage to educate the shopper on its extensive fish assortment. The sign here reads:
Tip From Our Fish Guy
Filet of Hake: Among fishers, this fish is often nicknamed the “pretty girl.” This meaty fish, related to the cod, is very mild in flavor. This is the fish for people who do not like fish, as a Spanish saying goes.
Sampling the Unusual, Too
Beyond cheese, mandarins, bread and other more common items, the store leverages sampling to introduce shoppers to more unusual items as well.
Here, Marqt is sampling rabbit pate. Signage additionally points out ideas for wines or other items that would make for good complementary purchases.