Giving New Meaning to ‘Fruit Snacks’

Given that the end-all/be-all name of the food retailing game is the endless pursuit to sell the whole store, grocers have a promising reason to ring up healthy sales in 2013 with abundant storewide cross-promotions featuring fresh fruit.

Indeed, a new snacking research report from The NPD Group not only finds fresh fruit placing as the top snack food among Americans, but also one of the fastest growing at retail, in light of growing concerns about health and eating right are contributors to the increasing popularity of fruit as a snack.

One of the key reasons fruit holds the top snack position is that it’s eaten throughout the day, resulting in its inclusion in more snack occasions than other snack foods, according to NPD’s Snacking in America report, which examines attitudes and behaviors about snacking as well as snack selection drivers.

During the two-year period ending March 2012, fresh fruit was consumed as a snack in 10 more snack occasions a year than chocolate, the next top snack food, and 25 more occasions a year than potato chips, the third most popular snack food.

“Taking the who, what, when, and where of fresh fruit consumption into account, the point to be made is that fresh fruit is a top-of-mind snack with most consumers,” according to Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “Among the opportunities this trend presents to producers and produce retailers to market and merchandise fruit around the activities during which it is most likely to be eaten, usage can be expanded with packaging innovation and promotions for on-the-go activities when it’s least likely to be consumed.”

Specifically, NPD’s latest snack research finds that consumption of snack-oriented foods is motivated by different needs: health and weight, hunger satiety, on-the-go/convenience, routine/habit, cravings, and a treat/reward when watching TV, visiting friends or other social activities. Fresh fruit ranks #1 in five of the six needs states — health and weight, hunger satiety, convenience, routine/habit, and satisfying a craving.

Another factor contributing to the popularity of fresh fruit is that it is a favorite snack among all ages, according to the Snacking in America report. Consumers 65 and older eat the most fruit, followed by children under 12. Teens, ages 13 to 17, eat the least amount of fruit but their consumption increases as they get older. Another aspect of the fruit consumer, other than their age, is the type of snacker they are. Healthier snack consumers snack more often between meals and eat a wider variety of healthy snacks, and fruit is the top go-to snack for these consumers.

No matter how you slice it, the fresh produce department represents the single greatest opportunity for retailers to help consumers meet their elevated nutritional goals as a partner in delivering healthy choices. However, value-seeking, waste-resistant shoppers continue to cautiously protect their purse straps by refraining from indiscriminate purchases of products that might potentially spoil before they can be consumed. It will be interesting to see how this topline trend plays out as they year unfolds.

In the interim, we'd love to hear your related views about which departments/services will be at the forefront of your retail merchandising strategies in the coming year via our online poll.



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