In 2022, produce shoppers demand a deal
Appearance and quality no longer reigns king as the top considerations for U.S. produce consumers. In 2022, the produce shopper is buying first and foremost based on price, says the 2022 installment of The Power of Produce Study.
Published by FMI, The Food Industry Association, and conducted by 210 Analytics, the recently published study found that 25 percent of shoppers ranked price as the number one factor when making produce purchasing decisions.
This is followed by appearance (19 percent), health benefits (19 percent), with ripeness only the top consideration for 15 percent of those surveyed.
"In the past, the clear number one factor when buying fresh produce was appearance and quality,” says Rick Stein, vice president of fresh foods for FMI. “However, this year's survey showed that item price is now the number one factor consumers consider—on par with appearance and quality.”
“In addition to price, consumers are focusing on items with prolonged shelf-life, buying less or finding substitutes. At the same time, we see more shoppers concentrate on health and well-being when making fresh produce purchasing decisions and a strong desire for convenience," Stein added.
Almost all shoppers (96 percent), consider a produce purchase an investment in personal health and well-being. Consumers increasingly associate fresh produce with digestive health, weight management and disease management.
In fact, one-third of consumers who pay a lot of attention to health and nutrition tend to see fresh produce as playing a central role in their diet, and six-in-ten shoppers purchase fruits and vegetables to deliver on specific health benefits.
This positive association has spurred higher demand for more information about nutrition, health benefits, recommended daily amounts, and other health-centric insights.
Convenient and locally grown
From pre-cut and pre-washed options to grab-and-go and ready-to-serve solutions, convenience remains the top value-add for produce shoppers.
The report found that nearly half of shoppers frequently purchase convenient vegetable (45 percent) and fruit (48 percent) solutions. This popularity among consumers led to value-added fruits and vegetables making up 14.4 percent of total fresh product sales in 2021.
The share of shoppers expecting to purchase more value-added produce remains high at 27 percent, while only 5 percent anticipate they will cut down their value-added produce shopping and purchases.
Fifty-six percent of consumers say they want their produce department to carry more fruits and vegetables that are locally grown, followed by grown in the USA (54 percent).
The report said that such distinctions are most effective when paired with specific locally sourced definitions, like a certain mile radius or state lines. However, the definition of the term differs depending on the area of the country in which the shopper lives and the generation to which they belong.
Price concerns regarding produce and food are an item of high concern, even though prices have not grown as much as perceived, and many individuals are not yet doing anything about it. In recent months it has prompted more people to return to in home meals and buying patterns.
See the FMI's video on the Power of Produce 2022 results: