The Power of Produce

The Power of Produce

June 24, 2015

by Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

At FMI Connect earlier this month, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) released its inaugural Power of Produce report. The report explores shoppers' produce purchasing habits at retail and highlights the full path to produce purchase from pre-trip planning through purchase and consumption. The produce department is a key driver in why consumers choose to shop at a store making this department valuable to the retail company. At the same time, increasing produce consumption is the most impactful change consumers can make in their eating habits, making produce promotion a key focus for retail dietitians. A variety of insights from this report can position retail RDs to encourage produce purchase and consumption even more effectively.

Power of Produce insights:

  • Supermarkets score 4.5 on a 5 point scale for their produce departments. Study participants indicate the greatest produce department weaknesses are the lack of knowledgeable associates, variety, and health information.

RD opportunity: Develop an ongoing training program for store associates who work in the produce department. Include nutrition attributes of key produce items, preparation tips, seasonal produce items, and interesting facts and myths about specific items. Parents especially struggle with getting kids to eat more produce, so highlight items that kids love and provide tips and ideas for getting kids to eat more produce. Partner with produce leads to create in-store signage encouraging shoppers to ask produce staff for tips and ideas.

  • Local. Forty-eight percent of consumers surveyed indicate they choose foods because they are local; fruits and vegetables top the list of items shoppers have interest in, and 58% of survey respondents are interested in having more local items available for purchase.  

RD opportunity:  With an end goal of increasing produce consumption by all shoppers, leverage the local trend by partnering with local suppliers to host in-store farmer events, build end caps of locally sourced produce, and create signage highlighting products locales. In social media, feature the locally grown produce carried by your retailer. If your retailer doesn't currently have a definition of "local," spearhead this company effort to provide your shoppers with a point of reference. 

  • Planned and Impulse Purchases. On shopping lists, seven out of 10 shoppers list produce and six of these shoppers compare promotions across stores (73% do so using the circular). At the same time, 57% of shoppers surveyed indicate they frequently or almost always have impulse produce purchases in the store.

RD opportunity: Highlight cooking tips and nutritional attributes of produce (especially seasonal items) in the circular, recipes, and online communications. Partner with buyers and department heads to cross-merchandise produce in high impulse areas such as the front lanes, near in-store coffee shops, and in center store with complimentary items (think bananas with banana bread mix).

  • Produce Snacking and Juicing. Growth potential exists for both fruits and vegetables in these eating occasions, especially amongst Millennials and families with young children.

RD opportunity: Partner with the deli department to create interesting snack packs focused on seasonal and/or new produce items. Offer kids' cooking classes focused on produce at snack time. Conduct in-store demos of juicing of nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits, and offer juicing ideas on websites. Engage millennials through social media with tips and ideas for incorporating new and seasonal produce items into snacks.

  • Value Added Produce. Produce that is chopped, sliced, halved, washed or prepped in some say great 13% this past year compared to unprepared produce which grew 3%. Almost half of survey participants indicate they purchase value-added produce regularly.

RD opportunity: Develop bunker meal solution programs focusing on value-added produce to fill half the plate. Promote "fresh cut" programs as grab-and-go breakfast and snacking solutions.  


The Food Marketing Institute is providing an exclusive offer to RDBA members -- free access to the report for a short time period.  To download the report visit and enter promotion code Produce2015.