Power of Produce 2017ARLINGTON, VA – Produce, a category that outpaces total store sales at $63 billion, increased in dollars 3.3 percent and grew in volume 2.6 percent over the 52 weeks ending March 19. Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) Power of Produce 2017 identified the catalysts for growth and increased trips as primarily due to produce purchases among millennial shoppers and purchases of more value-added, organic and branded items.

The analysis, conducted by 210 Analytics and supported by data from IRI and Nielsen, reveals strategies for food retailers to consider as they bolster their produce merchandising and marketing programs. One of the study’s top findings explores that while price remains an important factor in produce selection, appearance easily dominates. In fact, 58 percent of impulse produce purchases are a result of eye-catching displays.

“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,” Rick Stein, vice president for fresh foods at FMI, said.

Stein continued, “In addition to customer-perceived quality and freshness, the research emphasizes that the shopping experience matters for the produce shopper. Notably, increased sales can occur when knowledgeable associates can assist shoppers: Fifty percent of shoppers tend to repeatedly purchase the same items, but 83 percent welcome advice on unfamiliar items or preparation techniques.” 

While the majority of the findings in Power of Produce 2017 favored strategies and opportunities for traditional food retailers, this year’s analysis proposes 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 continues to soar, with 54 percent of shoppers hoping for an expanded local selection, and local receives preference over organic among many consumers in a direct comparison.

The research was made possible by the generous support of Hillphoenix and Yerecic Label.