Packaged produce will keep growing. 

How do we know this? Retailers and consumers told us in two surveys.

In the December issue of Produce Retailer magazine, I wrote about this year’s edition of our annual packaging survey, where we asked more than 150 retailers about their experiences with packaged fruits and vegetables. 

In our survey, 76% said they regularly sell packaged produce, and of those, 12.5% said they sold over 25% more than a year ago; 63% said they sold 1-25% more than a year ago; and only 8% said they sold less than a year ago.

What’s the No. 1 reason consumers buy packaged produce, according to retailers? Convenience.

Here’s the breakdown of why retailers think consumers buy packaged:

  1. Convenience, 73%
  2. Prefer single-serve sizes, 11%
  3. Food safety, 6%
  4. Value, 4%
  5. Other, 6%  

Consumers mostly agree with that assessment.
In our Fresh Trends 2017 consumer survey, we asked primary shoppers to name up to three advantages of packaged fresh fruits and vegetables:

  1. Convenience, 63%
  2. Value, 43%
  3. Freshness, 27%
  4. Food safety, 21%
  5. Health, 21%
  6. Other, 13%

One is tempted to draw a disconnect between retailers and consumers when it comes to the value proposition of packaged produce, but I think it’s something else.

Most of the produce department growth in packaged produce this decade has come from value-added items.

Most retail chains have grown sales of fresh-cut, meal kits, single-serve and grab-and-go items, and they make noise because the margins are among the highest in the department.

But consumers still see bags of apples, potatoes, citrus and the like as the value side of the produce department, and retailers shouldn’t take that lightly.

See more from the Packaging Special Report: 

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