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Price jumps to prominence among fresh produce shoppers

Arlington, VA – FMI—the Food Industry Association today releases its 2022 Power of Produce report, revealing 25% of shoppers ranked price as the number one factor when making fresh produce purchasing decisions, followed by appearance (19%), health benefits (19%) and ripeness (15%). The report also offers insights on consumers’ produce shopping habits related to health and well-being and heightened preference for locally grown and convenience options.

“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 produce 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.”

Shoppers Link Produce to Health Benefits
For most shoppers (96%), picking from the produce aisle is considered 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.

Consumers Crave Convenience
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%) and fruit (48%) solutions. This popularity among consumers led to value-added fruits and vegetables making up 14.4% of total fresh product sales in 2021. The share of shoppers expecting to purchase more value-added produce remains high at 27%, while only 5% anticipate they will purchase less.

Locally Grown Outperforms All Other Attributes
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%). 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.

The 2022 Power of Produce was conducted by 210 Analytics and made possible by the Southeast Produce Council (SEPC), Invafresh and Yerecic Label. The report was presented at SEPC’s 2022 Southern Exposure conference.

About FMI
As the food industry association, FMI works with and on behalf of the entire industry to advance a safer, healthier and more efficient consumer food supply chain. FMI brings together a wide range of members across the value chain — from retailers that sell to consumers, to producers that supply food and other products, as well as the wide variety of companies providing critical services — to amplify the collective work of the industry. www.FMI.org

About SEPC
The Southeast Produce Council (SEPC) is a member-driven, non-profit association of more than 3,000 leaders from all facets of the produce industry. It was formed more than 20 years ago to promote the value of fresh fruits and vegetables in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Virginia through networking, innovation, community, and education. Today, SEPC is a thriving organization that continues to share and pursue its vision, mission, values, and goals. Learn more by visiting www.seproducecouncil.com.