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What is the decisive factor when buying fresh produce?

If people were to consume the recommended daily amounts of vegetables, the fruit and vegetable sector would double in size. Unfortunately, numbers indicate that consumers are actually eating fewer fruits and vegetables. These, therefore, need to be better marketed. The Greenhouse Business Unit at the Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in the Netherlands investigates the underlying reasons why consumers buy fruit and vegetables. Is it about the taste, freshness, price or health benefits? How important is the price?
Research in 3 countries
The study took place with consumers in the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands. A total of 958 participated. By completing a questionnaire, they indicated which fruit and vegetable product characteristics were important to them. The most important product characteristics were found to be the same in all three countries. Many product characteristics, particularly taste and freshness are more important to consumers than price. These characteristics are generally not explicitly noticeable when these products are on the shop shelves. The researchers think that herein lie opportunities for marketers.

Scores for fruit and vegetable product characteristics, source: WUR

Trade-off between the price and other product characteristics
There is, however, a world of difference between research and what's actually happening. Do consumers really buy the more expensive, fresher, healthier tomatoes or do lower prices distract them? Further analysis of this so-called trade-off was done. A second survey was done under only Dutch consumers. This examined the extent to which the price factor weighs in the final purchase decision.

Example of a survey question on tomatoes

Price most important, but so is taste and ADH information
Shoppers were offered outwardly identical products - a tomato, bell pepper and strawberry - online, with various information (taste, ADH, health) and price. What were the results? Price was the most important factor in 40% of the cases, but information about the taste or AHD was the determining factor for about half of the other respondents.

Conclusion trade-offs tomato

Important conclusions
The desirability of tomatoes and bell peppers are determined more by price (40%) than taste and ADH claims. With strawberries, taste was actually more important than price. Sixty percent of respondents did not, however, choose price first. The wording of the presented information was also important. ADH information, for example, was more important than nutritional and health claims. So, here there are opportunities for marketers, according to the researchers.

Click here for the full presentation of the study. Click here for the research website.

For more information:
Wageningen University & Research
Business Unit Glastuinbouw
Caroline Labrie
T +31 (0)317 485 747

Publication date: 2/6/2018



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