Produce’s big players

Knowing where shoppers are placing their dollars can be the difference between full shelves or full carts.

Imagine creating a large display of soup cans near the entrance of a grocery store. It would definitely eliminate the feeling of “fresh” that shoppers expect to experience when they glide through a supermarket’s doors. And every retailer knows, first impressions count.
The fresh categories make up close to 60%-70% of sales in the supermarket, according to industry observers. Produce’s front-and-center position in the grocery store does more than create a pleasurable shopping experience; it is a key factor in growing sales.

Deciding what fruits and vegetables get front row placement is the big conundrum. However retailers are in luck. Grocery Headquarters’ annual State of the Industry Almanac looks at the fresh department’s biggest sellers—and the results may be surprising.

Retailers looking to enhance sales should pay attention to these five categories that showed dollar and unit growth in the double digits—or close to it—for the 52 weeks ended January 25: Value-added vegetables (10.3% in dollars and 11.3% in units), avocados (12.2% and 9.5%), beverages (12.7% and 12.0%), cooking greens (21.1% and 15.2%) and other produce (11.1% and 9.5%). Dollar sales of squash/pumpkins also went up 10.6%, but a very small jump in unit sales implies a price hike.

The continued focus on health and nutrition at a national level is driving produce sales overall, specifically in items such as cooking greens, which are being used as much for juicing as they are for cooking in many consumer kitchens.

Avocado sales are also enjoying the fruits of the health trend as their positive attributes are publicized and more people are adding them to meals, as well as making guacamole, which has become popular as a burger topper or sandwich spread.

Other categories that saw an increase in both dollar and unit sales are packaged salads (7.0% and 4.0%); herbs, spices and seasonings (6.3% and 4.0%); and stone fruits (5.8% and 5.2%).

Few categories saw a decrease in both dollar and unit sales, but of those that did, there were a few large drops. Sprouts and grains both decreased in dollar sales 21.8% and 12.1% respectively, and sprouts also saw a decrease in unit sales of 25.8%. The only other category with a comparable decrease in unit sales was cherries, 23.3%. 

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