Supermarkets remain a “powerhouse in fresh,” despite an ever-growing variety of food shopping outlets, especially fresh produce, which resides as a “supermarket stronghold” among 68 percent of shoppers.
According to Anne-Marie Roerink, who reviewed the results of the Food Marketing Institute’s second annual Power of Produce report, Supercenters (16 percent) are the second most popular outlet for fresh produce purchases, followed next by warehouse clubs (5 percent).
Highlights of this year’s produce shopper study found nearly 25 percent of shoppers switch outlets when purchasing fresh produce versus the bulk of groceries, primarily to full-service supermarkets, farmers’ markets/produce stands and specialty organic stores.
Roerink, principal of 210 Analytics, which prepared the “mega trends” produce study, warned that younger generations are drawn to alternative channels. She sees this as “a red flag for traditional retailers, as losing the produce basket may result in losing additional spending in center store.”
Ringing up a whopping $61 billion in annual sales, fresh produce is in hot demand with no signs of a slow down. Powered by a 4 percent growth rate, the category is a lucrative and influential element for grocery baskets, which average nearly $30 more with fresh produce than one without.
Beyond price, the most successful incremental produce purchase drivers, per the Power of Produce study, include:
- Eye-catching displays, which are extremely influential
- Produce cross-merchandised in other parts of the store
- Impulse through ideation, including recipes, serving ideas and sampling
- Education/information, especially nutrition call-outs that are relevant to the audience
Notably, consumers are placing increased value on transparency – how and where the crop was grown – as evidenced by how support for the local farmers/economy overtook perceived freshness as the top reason for buying locally-grown. This sentiment also applies double-digit sales gains for organic fresh produce and an expressed need for “free-from” products. Still, organic remains a niche segment to date, according to the Power of Produce consumer research study, reflecting 8 percent of total produce sales, with usage skewing to the more affluent shoppers and families with children.