PMA Research Shows that Packaging of Fresh Produce Influences Purchasing Behavior

The latest research from the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) shows that packaging of fresh produce plays a critical role in consumer preference and that offering greater packaging options can influence purchasing behavior.

Conducted online and in-store, the study, Consumer Attitudes toward Packaged Fruits and Vegetables, sponsored by Yerecic Label, a leader in on-pack labeling for consumer products, uncovers the keys that entice consumer purchasing habits, including buying additional fresh produce and/or trying new items, and also compares consumers’ preferences among packaged and loose products. It was conducted as a follow up to research done in 2006 to gauge consumer attitudes toward packaged produce.

Consumers identified several attributes as most important including packaged produce as preservation, freshness and taste, the produce being pre-washed, protection of the item and easy storage in the refrigerator. When buying packaged produce, 75 percent of shoppers look for use-by or sell-by dates on the packaging—consumers want to ensure freshness and they use the dates as an indicator.  Just over 33 percent of consumers look for nutrition information so including nutritional information such as health benefits, calorie counts and carbohydrates will appeal to consumers looking for healthy items and recipes. When it comes to recipes included on packaging, consumers want them written in simple terms and using commonly known ingredients.

“Packaging provides even greater marketing opportunities for fresh produce by providing space to give the shopper desired information such as recipes, storage and handling instructions, finished dish photography and other information that make the product more convenient and appealing,” said Rich Thoma, vice president sales and marketing for Yerecic Label, based in New Kensington, Pa. “In addition, today’s sophisticated packaging is geared toward providing quantities that meet the needs of smaller households, ensuring consumers know they will be spending their money wisely and reduce waste.”

According to the study, price was the biggest deterrent to consumers when deciding between packaged and loose produce. In order to get a premium for packaged produce the produce industry needs to show consumers the value of packaged produce. Retailers and suppliers of packaged produce need to promote convenience to the consumer and provide them with the information they want.

For more information and to view the study (PMA members can access it for free), visit www.pma.com/packaging-study.

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