By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
According to IRI data, produce at retail is a large, profitable and growing category that represents over 33% of fresh sales. Given these stats and the growing consumer interest in holistic health, produce has the power to drive increase sales and customer loyalty for supermarkets. To understand what shoppers think about produce, the Food Marketing Institute recently released their third annual report, “The Power of Produce – an in-depth look at the produce department through the shopper’s eyes.” They surveyed 1,700 consumers utilizing questions of importance from suppliers and retailers. Below are five of the key findings followed by tactics that supermarket dietitians can implement to help drive more produce sales:
1. Price and promotions can drive traffic in the produce department, but appearance and quality are vastly more important to consumers when making purchasing decisions.
2. Many shoppers routinely purchase the same produce items but would appreciate tips to expand their knowledge about new or uncommon products.
3. While supermarkets capture most of produce purchases, Millennials are driving growth in alternative channels. Supercenters have a strong everyday price perception and specialty organic stores and farmers’ markets win with special attribute items, including local and organic.
4. The dominance of the paper circular is diminishing in favor of greater in-store and digital communication.
5. Shoppers continue to support locally-grown products with 54% hoping for an expanded local selection. Consumers’ definition of local is settling on a mile radius and state lines with supporting the local farmers/economy being the top reason for purchasing local.