Fresh Foods, Especially Produce, Increase Traffic Pull

Fresh Foods, Especially Produce, Increase Traffic Pull

February 26, 2014

Perimeter fresh foods are the main draws of supermarkets, state nearly three-quarters of consumers (73.6%), in the 2014 National Grocers Association-SupermarketGuru Consumer Survey Report.

Their emphasis on fresh over packaged foods for meals at home escalates – because they look to nutritious, satisfying produce and proteins as essential tools for eating healthier and keeping energy levels high.

Their commitment to fresh extends a rise from 69.2% in 2013 and 66.4% in 2012.  Households in the highest-income tiers of $85,001-$125,000, $125,001-$165,000, and $165,001+ express this the most, from 74.7% to 84.0% of the time.  More than three-quarters (75.3%) of the largest grocery spenders, $101+ per week, also drive this response.

They want produce to look and taste freshly picked, but without the dirt.  Clean displays top the list of what matters most to respondents in the visible presentation of fresh foods: precisely two-thirds (66.6%) say this, more than last year’s 66.4% and 2012’s 64.4%.  

What else do chief household shoppers want in produce displays?  “Appealing appearance of food” (55.8%) tops the 48.9% mark of both 2013 and 2012; “products are not past sale date” (31.7%) drops from 2013’s 37.9% and 2012’s 37.5%; “locally grown” (22.1%) dips from 2013’s 22.4% and 2012’s 24.2%; “packaging that gives me a clear view of product” (21.7%) declines from 2013’s 22.7% and 2012’s 22.4%.

Produce is the pivotal traffic driver for more than two out of three consumers (68.3%).  This is the highest measure in recent years, up from 64.6% in 2013 and 67.6% in 2012.  It is far above other key perishables in this regard: meat slides to 16.3% from 2013’s 18.7%, dairy dips to 4.7% from 2013’s 5.1%, seafood moves up to 4.1% from 2013’s 3.8%, and prepared foods climb to 1.6% from last year’s 1.3%.

The good news for supermarkets:  They command the fresh-food spend within their trading areas.  Posting the highest-ever level, 85.9% of survey respondents say they spend more than half of their fresh-food dollars in supermarkets.   This is up from 84.3% in the prior two years; the increase came mostly from households that had spent between one-quarter and one-half of their fresh-food dollars at supermarkets in 2013.

With nearly identical figures to 2013, “health” dominates once again as the leading reason why people eat fresh foods.  Since its current figure (57.5%) is slightly below last year’s 58.2%, and “taste” rose nominally to 38.2% from last year’s 37.5%, health’s margin narrows for the second straight year.  This suggests people actually like eating fresh foods and will continue.  

Another reason to focus on fresh:  the heaviest grocery spenders $81+ per week (39.3% to 43.2%) lead the “taste” response, as do consumers age 50-64 (42.8%) and 65+ (41.3%).