Produce’s fresh outlook

Marketing the health benefits of fruits and vegetables and developing convenient, value-added snack options have helped boost sales in the produce department.

almproduce4-13The produce department sets the stage for a consumer’s shopping trip. With a wide-range of fresh offerings a retailer can win customers’ loyalty before they even set foot in the center store, say industry observers.

Produce continues to demand significant real estate in the supermarket floor plan, and evolving flavor trends and continuous innovations in convenience items makes it a tough call for retailers when deciding what to stock.

Two segments continuing to see growth are value-added fruits and value-added vegetables. Consumers are demanding convenient value-added produce snacks for themselves and their families, say observers. Healthy eating initiatives highlighting nutritional snacks and a boom in the number of offerings introduced to the market in the last year, especially kid-oriented products, has contributed to the category’s growth as well. Both value-added fruits and value-added vegetables saw a more than 9% increase in dollar sales, and value-added vegetables saw an 11% increase in volume, according to Chicago-based Nielsen Perishables Group for 52 weeks ended Jan. 26.

Nutritional messaging has played a role in boosting sales in particular categories. Avocados, for example, saw a 29% increase in volume sales, but only 7% in dollar sales. More consistent year-round availability and expanded distribution helped keep the price down, appealing to consumers.

Other significant increases under the fruits and vegetables umbrella include cooking greens and berries, two segments heavily marketed for their nutritional benefits.
Outside the fresh fruits and vegetables umbrella, the produce department saw a huge jump in sales for the beverages and nuts and seeds categories, 21% and 24% in dollars respectively. An increase in volume (22% and 19%) supports the categories growth in popularity among consumers, without a strong shift in price.

Many other categories took a small hit for the tracked period. Lettuce, tomatoes and grains all saw between a 9% and 10% decrease in dollar sales. Although a smaller decrease in volume suggests these categories were affected by decreasing price points due to high supply. 

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