By: Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh Foods, FMI
According to the Power of Produce 2021, more than three out of 10 shoppers believe they will purchase more value-added produce in the future—the highest share in four years. That’s a lot of shoppers expecting to buy more pre-washed lettuce, pre-chopped fruit and pre-cut vegetables. When it comes to value-added or prepared produce, I like to keep in mind the three Cs:
While at-home cooking is a driving factor behind consumers’ grocery shopping habits these days, it doesn’t mean convenience can be forgotten. Many consumers have longer workdays as they work remotely and after a long day of Zoom meetings, these consumers still have to prepare dinner. These consumers are looking for time-saving tips and handy solutions.
There is also cooking fatigue among at-home chefs who have tried it all. Cooking is fun, but only if some of the tedious work is done ahead of time, like chopping onions or dicing peppers. These convenient value-added items are just what consumers are looking for: They want to cook, but they also want it to be fun and time-saving.
Beyond convenience, value-added produce offers shoppers the chance to exercise their culinary creativity without endless recipe steps. Prepared produce is a time saver on the most complicated recipe, but still allows at-home chefs to flex their muscles—Chinese chicken salad with a bag of lettuce, fajitas with pre-chopped vegetables, a watermelon whale with pre-chopped fruit salad. The sky is the limit when consumers have an abundance of value-added produce to choose from.
Currently, value-added produce represents 22% of total produce sales. This number has grown consistently for many years. Now with everyone cooking at home again, we can expect this trend to continue for some time. Among product suppliers and food retailers alike, there is plenty of opportunity for innovative packaging and products that provide time-saving convenience to consumers. Increasing the assortment of value-added produce food retailers offer will serve to attract loyal shoppers.