The latest FreshFacts on Retail Report from the United Fresh Produce Association came with an added bonus: a live webinar discussing trends with Nielsen’s Matt Lally and Jeff Cady from Tops Friendly Markets.
Lally presented the report, with commentary from Cady to add insight on why the industry is seeing the shifts in sales and volume. The webinar even discussed items that posted amazing numbers, but weren’t in the Top 10, like a 22% gain in sales for pears in the first quarter of 2019.
“Pears have been on fire, just from a retailer perspective,” Cady said.
Lally said hot prices, down 10% on average in Q1, boosted sales tremendously.
“Just like berries did a really good job with continuing to find new usages, and a lot of vegetables have this as a benefit, there’s a bit more versatility in how people can thing about or prepare,” Lally said. “Pears as a great pairing with certain cheeses on sandwiches. That’s something that will continue to serve it well in the future.”
Iceberg lettuce also had a great quarter it the wake of supply issues and advisories for romaine. Consumers were trading to iceberg, and were willing to pay a steep price. The average price of iceberg increased 23%, and only 25% of iceberg sold in Q1 was on promotion, compared to close to 50% in other quarters. This shows consumers weren’t as price sensitive, Lally said.
On the other hand, strawberries posted almost 9% higher prices in Q1, and 75% of them were sold on promotion, showing consumers were more price sensitive and chose to wait for sales.
Having perspective from Cady and Lally also provided insights on some categories, which may seem surprising, like an increase in sales for bananas year-over-year, that people shouldn’t get too excited about.
Lally and Cady also discussed trends, like the increase in value-added items like broccoli, and a surprising slump for value-added cauliflower. Fresh broccoli was up 7.1%, but cauliflower was down 1.7%.
How can that be, with the popularity skyrocketing?
They’re turning to frozen, where there has been a lot of innovation in value-added cauliflower offerings.
Frozen broccoli was up 6.4% and frozen cauliflower sales were up 18% versus a year ago.
This was the first time United Fresh offered FreshFacts on Retail as a webinar discussion, a decision made by the organization’s Retail-Foodservice board, to give members a better sense of the “why” behind the numbers.
The quarterly report is available at no cost to United Fresh here. ($50 for non-members).