A quarterly report by the United Fresh Produce Association finds produce sales to be increasing with average weekly sales up by 2.5 percent for this year’s third quarter compared to the same time last year. The produce department in grocery stores is attracting more shoppers as center store products are migrating online.
According to the report, visits to the supermarket for fresh food products are up compared to last year but overall trips to the supermarket are down. The report entitled “FreshFacts on Retail” identifies produce to be a key driver in maintaining grocery store visits, especially innovative produce products like prepackaged salads and chopped veggies.
“Health and convenience are both key factors in the rise of new products in the produce department,” Jeff Oberman, United Fresh Produce Association Vice President of Trade Relations and United Fresh’s Retail-Foodservice Board liaison said in the report.
“From kits to veggie noodles, we expect continued growth and expansion of fresh-cut and value-added products, both in private label and branded produce.”
In response to this sales trend, grocery stores are putting more focus on the produce section and other perimeter departments. The produce department is a point of differentiation compared to most e-commerce grocery websites. People tend to prefer produce that that they can feel and examine before purchasing. The demand for fresh food is also increasing as consumers start to focus on healthier lifestyles. Supermarkets like Walmart and Kroger have already expanded their produce sections to meet the increasing demand.
Due to the health and convenience factor, pre-packaged produce items are becoming increasingly popular with consumers. Among this trend are vegetable-based carbohydrate replacements. Sales of vegetable noodles are up by a staggering 409 percent while cauliflower rice sales have increased 113 percent since last year.
Organic produce sales are also contributing to this grocery trend with sales up by 7.6 percent in this year’s third quarter compared to the same time last year. The report identifies organic produce as an exponential growth opportunity for grocers as more organic products hit the shelves of popular food markets.
Although this increase in sales holds the promise of growth potential for its category, many Americans are still not consuming the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables a day. According to a report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 12.2 percent of American adults ate their recommended dose of fruit (1.5 to 2 cups) in 2015, while just 9.3 percent ate the suggested dose of vegetables (2 to 3 cups).
With more selections available and health-focused food trends on the rise, the potential for Americans to increase their fruit and vegetable intake is very high, giving the produce industry the boost that they are expecting.