- The sale of produce continues to rise, according to the Power of Produce 2017 study by the Food Marketing Institute. The category increased 3.3% and grew in volume 2.6% over the 52 weeks ending March 19th. That translates to $63 billion in sales.
- Purchases among Millennial shoppers and purchases of more value-added, organic and branded items helped drive growth, according to the study.
- The price of produce is still important to consumers, but not as important as appearance. More than half (58%) of impulse produce purchases are the result of eye-catching displays and attractive fruits and vegetables.
Produce sales continue to rise, and stores have a variety of ways they can take advantage of this healthy trend. While supermarkets are a market leader, farmer’s markets, supercenters, specialty organic stores and alternative channels, like a home garden, also account for a significant portion of produce sales. Right now, one fifth of shoppers visit a location outside the grocery channel to buy their fresh produce
Millennials have helped drive growth for some of these smaller venues, like farmers markets and specialty organic stores when it comes to local and organic produce. Comparing the two, locally grown produce is seen as preferable over organic counterparts among many shoppers in a direct comparison. Fifty-four percent hope to see an expanded local selection, which many shoppers view as within a mile radius and within state lines. Buying local produce makes the shopper feel like they’re supporting the local economy, and that they're getting a fresher product. Supermarkets, which have rapidly increased their selection of local produce in recent years, will likely continue to expand these offerings.
One interesting finding of the study explores impulse produce purchases. While price does play a role in determining what consumers buy, many ultimately let their eyes decide. A simple solution for markets would be to build a display of peak seasonal items like ruby-red strawberries and make it the first thing shoppers see when they walk into the produce section.
Shoppers also prefer to have a knowledgeable staff member nearby if they’re interested in purchasing a new fruit or vegetable for the first time. The research shows that sales increased when an associate was nearby to answer their questions. Fifty percent of shoppers are creatures of habit, repeatedly buying the same produce. But 83% would welcome a friendly word of advice on an unfamiliar item, especially tips on how to prepare it. Markets may consider locating service areas near the produce department, so consumers could just walk a few feet to learn how to eat a dragon fruit or cook with a garlic. It would be a small investment that could quickly translate into even more growth for produce.