A new study from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) in the US has identified appearance as the key driver of fresh produce sales, ahead of price.
The Power of Produce 2017 study, conducted by 210 Analytics and supported by data from IRI and Nielsen, also showed that the fresh produce category outpaced total store sales at US$63bn, increased in dollars 3.3 per cent and grew in volume 2.6 per cent over the 52 weeks ending 19 March.
One of the study’s top findings found that, while price remains an important factor in produce selection, appearance easily dominates – some 58 per cent of impulse produce purchases are a result of eye-catching displays, it found.
“Consumers continue to look at ads and price when deciding where they plan to shop, but ultimately, when they are in the store, the eyes decide; the final purchase and incremental purchases are based on quality product and eye-catching merchandising,” said Rick Stein, vice-president for fresh foods at FMI.
“In addition to customer-perceived quality and freshness, the research emphasises that the shopping experience matters for the produce shopper," Stein continued. "Notably, increased sales can occur when knowledgeable associates can assist shoppers: Fifty per cent of shoppers tend to repeatedly purchase the same items, but 83 per cent welcome advice on unfamiliar items or preparation techniques.”
While the majority of the findings in Power of Produce 2017 favoured strategies and opportunities for traditional food retailers, this year’s analysis proposed that millennials are driving growth in alternative channels, such as specialty organic stores and farmers’ markets when it comes to local and organic purchases.
The popularity of locally-grown also continued to soar, with 54 per cent of shoppers hoping for an expanded local selection, and local received preference over organic among many consumers in a direct comparison.