Produce clerks work in grocery stores, supermarkets and other food-selling establishments. They are responsible for all fresh and packaged vegetables and fruits. Most establishments provide on-the-job training for this position. Depending on the size of the store, the produce clerk may second as a stock clerk handling additional food items outside of the produce department.
Produce clerks stock and rotate fresh fruits and vegetables in the produce department. They must ensure all products for sale are fresh and safe to eat; items that show signs of spoilage are discarded. Clerks also handle inventories and ensure items are ordered before they are out of stock. Produce clerks help customers find produce, educate customers on fruits and vegetables and help the establishment increase sales. They can also help in-store promotions by handing out samples or recommending add-on items to customers.
Produce clerks are entry-level workers, so previous experience or formal education is not required. Most establishments prefer their applicants to be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or equivalent. Applicants should be physically capable of performing the job, including being able to lift and stand for long periods of time.
Although formal education and training isn’t required, produce clerks should have the personal skills that will make them better at the job. Being a natural, active listener helps produce clerks understand what customers are looking for and suggest additional products to buy. Understanding basic math helps clerks with inventory and ordering. Natural customer service skills are also important since produce clerks work with suppliers, employees and customers on a daily basis.
Produce clerks fall under the category of Laborers and Freight, Stock and Material Movers, Hand, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2011, the median hourly wage for produce clerks was $11.42 per hour with the lower 10 percent earning $8.27 per hour and the highest 10 percent earning $18.61 per hour. For grocery service workers, the hourly mean wage for 2011 was $13.49 per hour.