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How Grocers Could Combat Barriers to Selling More Produce

Eating fruits and vegetables regularly is a common element of some of the most healthful diets in the world when it comes to promoting longevity, increasing cognitive and emotional well-being, and preventing chronic diseases — including reduced risk for coronary artery disease, stroke and certain cancers. As an added bonus for retailers, when produce lands
in the shopping cart, overall basket size is 44 percent higher on average.

Though 39 percent of consumers say they’re seeking more plant-based foods, only about 10 percent eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, and fewer than half of shoppers recently surveyed report eating fresh produce each day. 

What stands in consumers’ way of eating enough produce? Intake barriers include convenience, preparation time, spoilage and variation in family member preferences. Food retailers can help combat barriers by offering value-added products and services. 

Boost Convenience

Fresh, pre-cut and prepared produce delivers time savings that can make all the difference in getting fruits and vegetables onto the plate.

Single-serve packs; snack box combos; family meal-starter kits that include on-trend, seasonally relevant salads and side dishes; and party platters offer grab-and-go solutions for time-pressed consumers.

Whether eating alone, feeding the family or entertaining a crowd, consumers want easy and convenient produce options that look and taste fresh.

Expand Local

According to IRI data, having locally sourced fruits and vegetables makes shoppers feel like the retailer cares about the welfare of the local community and is a contributing factor for where consumers choose to shop for and purchase produce.

Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) “Power of Produce 2017” report revealed that 54 percent of shoppers are hoping for an expanded local selection, with the attribute local often trumping organic when directly compared.

Use signage to call out local produce offerings that support local farms and agriculture and signal a halo of superior freshness. 

Increase Trial 

Half of all shoppers are creatures of habit, buying the same produce items over and over. Yet more than 80 percent would like advice on ways to prepare unfamiliar fruits and vegetables.

Introduce an unfamiliar produce item via your sampling program and ready-to-eat salad bar. 

Provide descriptive messaging about its healthfulness, preparation, and optimal methods of serving and storage at the point of purchase, as well as via social media channels and your web and print ad, with an overlay of promotional savings to drive new purchases.

Tap Latest Resources

Retail dietitians can help amplify the healthfulness of eating produce and provide credible, science-based messages to inspire consumers to eat produce as part of an overall healthful diet.

Tap the following resources to support these efforts: 

  • The Produce for Better Health (PBH) Foundation’s 190-page “Health and Wellness Resource Guide for Fruit & Vegetables” (2017) highlights research findings and product-specific promotion tools for 75 fruit and vegetable varieties. 
  • FMI’s 40-page “Best Practices and Excellence in Fresh Department Health & Wellness” (2018) outlines how to use educational selling techniques and merchandising to leverage health and wellness to reduce customer confusion, build trust and drive growth in sales of produce.
  • The American Institute for Cancer Research’s (AICR) 12,000-page “Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: A Global Perspective” (2018) reinforces the goal to eat at least 30 grams of dietary fiber and 400 grams of fruit and vegetables daily, among other healthy habits.  

Further, deliver produce-promotion messages throughout the year during National Family Meals Month and Fruits & Veggies More Matters Month (both in September); New Year, New You (January); American Heart Month (February); National Nutrition Month (March); National Cancer Control Month (April); National Grilling Month (July); and more. 

About the Author

Karen Buch, RDN, LDN

Karen Buch, RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who specializes in retail nutrition marketing and communications. One of the first supermarket dietitians, she is now founder and principal consultant at Nutrition Connections LLC, providing consulting services nationwide. You can connect with her on Twitter.

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