Fresh Cut Trends

At the Fresh-Cut Expo in Baltimore this past April, the International Fresh-cut Produce Association – now part of the United Fresh Produce Association – announced a partnership with the Perishables Group to produce a quarterly report on fresh-cut produce.

The FreshFacts on Fresh Cut report for the first quarter of 2006 was just released and includes some promising data for fresh-cut produce. In the first quarter of 2006, total sales of fresh-cut produce were more than $1.3 billion. This represents a 6.5 percent increase over the same quarter in 2005.

Fresh-cut fruit was the area with highest growth, according to the report, with total dollar sales up 15.7 percent from 2005. In total in the first quarter, fresh-cut fruit represented $242 million of the total fresh-cut sales, with fresh-cut vegetables representing $1 billion.

Vegetables have made up the majority of fresh-cut produce sales from the segment’s beginnings. This continues to be the case, but fresh-cut fruit is gaining ground. Fresh-cut fruit represents 19 percent of the total dollar sales of fresh-cut produce, up from 17 percent one year ago.

Trends continue to show the increasing need for fresh-cut produce: smaller households, busier lifestyles. And the sales data mirrors this. This report represents what most in the industry already know: fresh-cut produce is a thriving segment of the produce industry – with a lot of future promise. Fresh-cut companies are able to supply consumers with high-quality, fresh produce on a year-round basis.

The next step is for the industry to continue to innovate. Fresh-cut produce is still the big thing in the produce aisle, but the need for innovation hasn’t disappeared. Growth will not continue at a fast rate if there isn’t increased innovation through new products, new choices and new combinations. Consumers become “immune” to the same-old-same-old offerings at the grocery store more quickly than they used to. Quick and creative thinking keeps producers ahead of the ever-changing consumer.

It’s not just the new product development that needs to increase, it’s the distribution of those new products. I still go to the grocery store expecting to see new products we write about in Fresh Cut, and they’re nowhere to be seen. A lot of the whole-meal solutions and ready-to-eat meals are not yet available here in the Midwest. It’s one thing to have a great product – it’s a completely different thing to get that product to consumers.

I’m eager to see what the second-quarter report on The FreshFacts of Fresh Cut shows. I expect to see continued growth in this industry, and the produce trend reports should show this. I also expect that the types of products and “different degrees” (as mentioned in the report) also shift as the industry evolves.

These are just some highlights from the report; all IFPA/UFPA members have access to the full report at

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