Consumer produce consumption unchanged despite inflation

FMI – The Food Industry Association released the Power of Produce 2023 report at the Southeast Produce Council's annual Southern Exposure event, revealing that produce department sales grew 4.8 percent to $74.5 billion in 2022, even with inflation.

More consumers are turning to value-added produce – pre-cut and washed – and packaged salads, which provide convenience but typically come with a higher price point per pound. Most shoppers (68 percent) say they'd like their store to carry a bigger selection of these time-saving produce products. 

"Consumers continue to purchase produce at roughly the same volume as in 2021 despite rising prices due to inflation. The shift we're noticing is that shoppers turned to more affordable conventional fresh fruits and vegetables and canned and frozen vegetables rather than buying pricier organic items," said Rick Stein, vice president for fresh foods at FMI.

The report is FMI's eighth in-depth look at produce consumption and buying habits through shoppers' eyes. Key findings include:

  • Fresh produce sales increase as volume drops: Sales of fresh produce reached $75 billion as prices climbed due to inflation, but pounds sold declined as 84 percent of consumers implemented money-saving measures. Some shoppers bought more frozen and canned produce rather than fresh. While the volume of produce purchased in 2022 decreased from 2021, overall produce sales also remained ahead (19 percent) of 2019 numbers, as did volume sales (3.4 percent).   
  • Frequency of produce consumption: One-third of Americans typically consume fresh produce daily, while a majority (58 percent) say they eat fresh produce at least four to five days a week. Most shoppers (72 percent) always or usually include fresh vegetables with their dinner. Fresh fruit is consumed the most at breakfast (56 percent) and in snacking (38 percent evening, 44 percent afternoon or morning).
  • Price, appearance, and convenience influence consumer store choice: Produce is the second-largest grocery store perimeter department--almost one-third of shoppers (30 percent) say the produce department is a determining factor in where they shop for groceries. Supermarkets are the most commonly shopped channel for fresh produce (72 percent) but non-food formats, ranging from convenience to drug stores, are taking a bite out of traditional channels' produce dollar.
  • Organic produce takes a hit: After several years of aggressive growth for organic, the trend reversed last year as organic produce volume decreased in 2022. One-quarter of shoppers indicated they are purchasing cheaper fresh produce in light of inflation.
  • Nutritional content important to shoppers: More than one-third of shoppers want more information on recommended daily totals and what constitutes a produce serving size, while close to half of consumers want more information about the nutrition content, health benefits, and more.   

The report was conducted by FMI and made possible by Yerecic Label, Southeast Produce Council, and Invafresh.

For more information:
Anna Burch
Southeast Produce Council Inc.
Tel.: +1 (877) 720-SPEC    

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