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Consumers also shifted some of their produce purchases to the frozen aisles in 2023, the report found.

Report cites opportunities to grow fresh produce sales

Price pressures impact shopping behaviors, according to FMI’s Power of Produce

Daily consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables has fallen to a seven-year low across all meal occasions, which indicates that retailers have an opportunity to increase sales by focusing on boosting consumption frequency, according to the Power of Produce 2024 report from FMI – The Food Industry Association.

Consumers also shifted some of their produce purchases to the frozen aisles in 2023, the report found, perhaps indicating an effort to minimize waste during a time of rising prices. Shoppers also cut back on pricier value-added produce items, such as bagged salads.

Citing data from Circana for sales across all channels, the report, compiled by research firm 210 Analytics, found that produce dollar sales were up 2.2% in 2023, although volume by weight was down slightly. Volume remained well above pre-pandemic levels, however, at 41.1 billion pounds in 2023 vs. 39.8 billion pounds in 2019.

“Overall, the produce department performance has been solid, but we are seeing consumers being more deliberate in their produce purchases to avoid food waste,” said Rick Stein, VP of fresh foods at FMI. “Food retailers and suppliers need to focus on helping shoppers with meal ideation and emphasizing the nutrition benefits of fruits and vegetables.”

The report found that frozen produce increased its share of the category to 8.9% of sales in 2023, up from 8.2% in 2022 and 7.9% in 2021. Shelf-stable fruit and vegetable products also increased their share of the market, reaching 11.8% in 2023, up from 11.1% in 2021. Fresh produce, meanwhile, fell to 79.3% of the category, down from 81% in 2021.

Consumer concerns about price may also be impacting sales of value-added produce, the report found. Although dollar sales of value-added items such as pre-cut fruits and vegetables and bagged salads were up 1.4% in 2023, volume by weight was down 3.7%.

“Price has not been the predominant driver of purchases in recent years, but rather appearance and ripeness,” Stein said. “Now, price is back in play.”

The sixth annual Power of Produce report, released at the Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Exposure conference, suggested that retailers and suppliers focus on providing shoppers with ideas for fruit and vegetable snacking as one area of opportunity. A little more than half — 51% — of produce shoppers said they would like tips on innovative ways to incorporate fresh fruit and vegetable snacking, for example. Other areas of opportunity include incorporating vegetables at breakfast, and featuring fruits as healthy desserts, the report suggested.

Providing more nutrition education, both online and in-store, is another opportunity to increase produce consumption, according to the report. This could include emphasizing health benefits, offering guidance on portion sizes, and providing practical tips for integrating fresh produce into all meal occasions.

Helping shoppers take steps to reduce fresh produce waste at home is also a key opportunity, the report found, as 58% of consumers said they cannot afford to waste fresh produce. Offering bulk items, a variety of package sizes, and storage tips can help shoppers minimize waste, the report suggested.


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