Fresh Food

Health, At-Home Cooking Drive Produce Sales Up 11.4%

Department sales reached $69.6B in 2020, per FMI’s 2021 Power of Produce
Photograph: Shutterstock

Driven by trends in at-home cooking and health/well-being, produce department sales reached $69.6 billion in 2020, an increase of 11.4%, according to FMI–The Food Industry Association’s 2021 Power of Produce report.

The survey of produce grocery shoppers, released at The Southeast Produce Council Southern Exposure event, also finds shoppers are purchasing more produce than pre-pandemic, with shoppers buying more fresh fruit (up 8.9%) and more vegetables (up 14.2%).

“Shoppers tell us they are cooking more at home; they are eating more vegetables at dinner and lunch and more fruit for breakfast and snacks. While these trends began in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re likely to see them continue due to younger generations driving these trends,” said Rick Stein, VP of fresh foods for Arlington, Va.-based FMI.

Health and Well-Being

During the COVID-19 pandemic, 44% of grocery shoppers surveyed say they are putting more effort into healthful eating. In fact, 71% of grocery shoppers say nutrition and health is a primary or important reason for purchasing fruits and vegetables, with shoppers saying produce offers them nutrients, digestive health, an overall healthy eating pattern, heart health and immune support.

That said, a majority of shoppers (86%) would welcome more nutrition information about fresh fruits and vegetables. This, FMI said, gives food retailers the opportunity to use the expertise of registered dietitians to engage with consumers and share messaging on nutrition attributes and the health benefits of incorporating fruits and vegetables.

Cooking With Produce

More than 3 in 4 shoppers (78%) have changed their meal preparation with fruits and vegetables, including trying different kinds, using new spices and sauces or testing new preparation methods, FMI found.

Forty-one percent of shoppers rely on friends and family for meal inspiration, but FMI notes that the appetite for recipe websites, YouTube, cookbooks and social media is strong, giving retailers even more opportunity to be a source of inspiration for family meals that include fruits and vegetables.  

With shoppers cooking more than previously comes the need for convenience. The share of shoppers who purchase value-added produce (pre-washed or pre-cut) increased from 31% in 2019 to 37% in 2020, FMI found. Furthermore, 3 in 10 shoppers believe they will purchase more value-added produce in the upcoming year—the highest share in four years.

The Power of Produce 2021 was conducted by 210 Analytics and made possible by the Southeast Produce Council, Burris Logistics and Yerecic Label.



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