- About 61% of consumers said they wish their grocery stores stocked more local produce, but the primary reason for buying local produce has shifted from wanting freshness to supporting the local economy and farmers, according to a new produce report from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI).
- Value-added produce continues to grow. However, dollar sales are increasing faster than volume, and consumers still tend to only buy certain items.
- Fresh products continue to make up a fraction of e-commerce sales, but consumers said they were 25% more likely to buy fresh produce from a company they trusted.
The shift in what consumers want, from freshness to supporting the local economy and farmers, could have marketing implications for manufacturers that want to use and promote local produce in their products. Instead of focusing on the freshness and environmental benefits, manufacturers can highlight the personal stories of local farmers and businesses in online campaigns, TV ads or even directly on the packaging. Kashi did something similar with its new editorial-style packaging, which features individuals who are important to the brand.
Value-added produce offers opportunities to manufacturers looking to bring the convenience of processed food to the fresh produce section. Sales of value-added produce are growing, particularly in organic vegetables, as items like chopped kale, peeled carrots and ready-to-cook squash saw sales jump 54% last year.
As companies like Campbell, WhiteWave and McCormick find new ways to build a brand presence on the produce aisle, value-added produce may be a way for processed foods manufacturers to play to their strengths by offering products that create a faster, more convenient meal at home. At the same time, manufacturers would be taking consumers' demand for fresher foods into account.
The produce section also continues to maintain a "healthy halo effect," particularly when compared to frozen and canned produce. Kellogg recognized this phenomenon when it recently inked a deal with the Meijer supermarket chain to place Kellogg cereal brands in the produce section of stores.
E-commerce remains a challenge for food and beverage producers, especially those that make fresh and refrigerated products. About 3% of consumers said they purchased some produce through online grocers in the past year, according to a recent Nielsen survey. Though that hasn't stopped manufacturers like Tyson, which has hired its first VP of e-commerce and already has partnerships with Amazon and Alibaba. Partnerships with major retailers and other trusted brands could ease consumers' concerns about buying fresh food products online.