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CONSUMER PERISHABLES DATABOOK
It is a good time to be in the produce game. For a depart- ment that could arguably be called the healthiest in the store, the recent wave of consumer interest and demand for health and wellness products has been a boon to the
department’s sales and status with consumers. However, the
department cannot win and grow produce sales simply by
relying on the inherently healthy aspects of fruits and veg-
etables to sell themselves.
Produce has the second-highest fresh department sales
behind meat. Since 2011, fresh produce dollar sales have
increased nearly four percent each year, and as a widely pur-
chased department that brings higher overall basket rings
than those trips that do not include produce ($62.40 versus
$33.55), it is well-positioned for future growth.
The steady growth of the department over the past few
years is being driven by trendy products—those that have
adapted to contemporary consumer demands like con-
venience—while many staple categories are declining.
Additionally, organics, innovative convenience products
and differentiated assortment are becoming more common
outside of high-end grocery, even within value retailers.
The retail environment continues to change, and although
this can seem daunting and present new challenges, it also
offers exciting new avenues for manufacturer growth. As
the competition intensifies, it is critical retailers understand
how to appeal to their core consumers.
Capitalize on Produce Power
Popular culture is also going a long way to boost the depart-
ment’s profile with consumers. Produce and trends adjacent,
are hard for consumers to ignore—from the organic and
local food movements, to produce appearing as an option
in everything from vending machines to Happy Meals. In
2015, sales of organic produce increased at four times the
rate of conventional growth (three percent versus 16 percent
for fruits; and three percent versus 14 percent for vegeta-
bles), and 67 percent of consumers reported that they think
it is important to buy local produce.
However, simply relying on the health benefits of produce
and trusting consumers to know and understand those ben-
efits is not enough to continue to drive growth within the
department. In fact, traditional staple categories like whole
apples and bananas had flat or declining sales over the last
year, while products that offer additional benefit for con-
sumers in terms of convenience, bold flavor and snackability
are driving growth.
Nielsen research shows that less than 40 percent of house-
holds know that a single serving of pork or chicken has
more protein than a single serving of peanut butter. If con-
sumer confusion over health benefits can occur in categories
that are often referred to as “proteins,” there is likely simi-
lar confusion in the produce department. Additionally, most
consumers are unable to link vitamins and nutrients with
the associated health benefits which provides a significant
opportunity for greater education.
It is also important to understand that consumers do not
simply want health from the produce department—they also
want convenience. Products such as salad kits with multiple
ingredients, easy-to-peel mandarins and cut fruits and veg-
etables that lend themselves to easier snacking or convenient
meal solutions have all driven their respective area’s growth.
Clearly communicating the health and convenience ben-
efits of produce, via innovations in packaging, branding and
even merchandising could reinvigorate more stagnant staple
categories and keep the momentum going for trending pro-
Consumers do not only want health from the produce department,
they also want convenience.
BY THE NIELSEN PERISHABLES GROUP
in this issue
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