What is Value?

The term “value-added” is often tossed around, but do we ever stop to think about what it means? Almost anything at the supermarket these days could have some sort of value added in – everything from the bakery to the meat counter to the freezer section has products that are designed to make meals faster and easier.

But is efficiency the only value we look for? There are many fresh-cut products that make fruit or vegetable salads easier, but that’s not the only value they add. Part of the value they offer is a healthful meal option or side – that just happens to be faster and easier than preparing from raw ingredients.

It all comes down to the consumer, and what he or she considers the value of fresh-cut products to be. If it’s convenience, then fresh-cuts are naturally the best choice because they are cut and ready to eat. If that same consumer is looking at health benefits as a value item, then fresh-cut items and fresh produce might be equal in his or her mind. But if cost is the only measure, fresh-cut items may not offer the same value in that consumer’s mind. In reality, it’s probably a combination of two or all three of these value factors.

Fortunately for packaged products, there is ample space to remind shoppers why fresh-cuts offer value, even in the price seems higher on the shelf. Convenience is a common marketing strategy on fresh-cut packaging, and the health benefits are increasingly appearing on packaging. But there may be opportunity to remind consumers about the value of fresh-cuts.

A shopper on a tight budget might compare the cost of a bag of apple slices and apples by the pound. On the surface, whole apples may look like the better “deal.” The same goes for bagged salads versus loose or head lettuce. But if that consumer were able to see how much waste is generated by whole produce, the fresh-cut item may have more value after all.

I saw this in practice at the supermarket recently. I watched a woman in the produce department load up on different lettuces, whole carrots, radishes and other salad ingredients – enough for a large family gathering. When she reached the end of the department where the bagged salads are, I could see the wheels turning. She looked at her cart, mentally calculated the cost of all the raw ingredients plus the time to wash and prepare it, then picked up a family-sized salad carton and went and returned the other produce items.

Sometimes a visual representation of the raw ingredients in a fresh-cut package can go a long way. Next time, maybe that shopper will go right to the bagged salad section based on the new-found value.


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