‘The consumer is the key to winning!’

June 17, 2015

For those of you who didn’t attend United Fresh 2015, one word sums up my whole experience: excitement.

Companies are excited. Consumers are excited. Experts are excited. The entire industry is incredibly excited for the future.

Jonna Parker, director at Nielsen Perishables Group, explained why in her June 10 super session titled “Consumer Trends and Their Impact on the Produce Industry.”

First and foremost, it’s all about the consumer. Parker says we need to understand their needs because they are the key to winning. And here’s why:

  • From 2010-2014 produce sales have grown consistently at an annual produce dollar growth of 5 percent.
  • Six out of 10 of the fastest growing retail categories are in produce. From 2010-2014, value-added vegetables experienced a 65 percent growth resulting in $1.5 billion. Over the same time frame, value-added fruits grew by 49 percent, which equates to $2 billion.
  • According to research conducted by Nielsen, 100 percent of consumers purchase produce. “Produce remains relevant by evolving to meet consumer priority areas: health, convenience, quality and value and portability.

Parker said, “Produce is in the driver’s seat.”

According to the research she presented, over the past year, produce sales increased by 4 percent while consumption increased by 2 percent. Fresh produce is a $46.4 billion industry.

And produce is one of the most frequently purchased item in the store. The average household spends $338 a year on fresh produce.

What can be done to continue this trend? Listen to your customers about the things that matter most.

Cost: 49 percent of shoppers rate cost as the most important influence when buying items at the store.

Convenience: 47 percent of people focus on convenience based on how much time they have to prepare their meal.

Health: 87 percent of Americans are aiming to eat healthier.

But Parker reminds us that we can’t assume anything. We can’t assume that people know fresh produce is healthy and convenient. We can’t assume that they know the product is worth the cost. It’s the industry’s job to tell them. Put it on the package. Use it in your branding. Don’t miss the opportunity to brag about your produce and your industry.

Before closing the United Fresh 2015 super session, Parker reminded us that the way people eat fruits and vegetable is evolving. Smoothies and juicing are now an $874 million industry.

So what’s next? Answer that question and be ahead of the game. And always think about your consumers.

Courtney Culey, digital content editor

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