Despite conflicting media portrayals, many American consumers are becoming more concerned with their health, and grocery stores must adapt to meet demand. The widened interest in healthy food is partly driven by cultural trends like organic, gluten-free, GMO-free, and others, but fresh produce is also on the rise for customers.
The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) reports that customers are increasingly interested in transparency regarding the source of their food, finding that “61% of shoppers want their produce department to stock more local items. However, shoppers’ definition of local is rapidly tightening to sourcing within a certain mile radius or simply within state lines.” The same report found that “support for the local farmers/economy overtook perceived freshness as the top reason for buying locally-grown. This shopper sentiment also applies double-digit sales gains for organic fresh produce and an expressed need for ‘free-form’ products.”3
This increased priority on local options seems to go hand in hand with a greater demand for produce overall: produce sales are up by 4% and also maintain a large, lucrative portion of shoppers’ purchases. According to the FMI, “a grocery basket with fresh produce [averages] nearly $30 more than one without.”3 Fresh produce and organic options are important to customers, and they are clearly willing to pay for them.
Increasing the emphasis on an already staple grocery product is not merely about meeting customer demand, though that on its own would be a reason to do so. Fresh produce and other fresh (and frozen) items represent one of the largest reasons that brick-and-mortar grocery stores remain viable, competitive options while physical models in other industries struggle.
Online shopping and home delivery still have yet to completely earn the trust of consumers when it comes to freshness and items they would prefer to inspect in person. According to the results of the Connected Commerce Survey by Nielsen, “The biggest obstacles to online shopping for consumable categories are the inability to inspect goods and uncertainty about product quality and freshness.” In the survey, 69% of respondents said that they prefer to examine products in person, and 64% said they were concerned about the quality or freshness of products ordered online.2
It’s for this reason that the click-and-collect model seems to be the future for grocery retail, rather than purely online shopping. Because brick-and-mortar stores provide the ability to return products to the store and inspect them in person, they will not likely be disappearing any time soon.
Fresh produce and healthy options are popular, lucrative, and a major draw for continued use of the brick-and-mortar grocery retail model. Therefore, when considering how to reduce the size of your store’s layout, make sure that the produce department maintains its priority share in the store’s square footage.
- Report: “The Future of Grocery: E-Commerce, Digital Technology and Changing Shopping Preferences Around the World.” The Nielsen Company. Apr. 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2017.
- Report: “What’s In-Store for Online Grocery Shopping: Omnichannel Strategies to Reach Crossover Shoppers.” The Nielsen Company. Jan. 2017. Web. 11 Nov. 2017.
- Article: “FMI Report: Fresh Produce Growth Driven by Mega Trends.” Food Marketing Institute. 22 Jun. 2016. Web. 10 Nov. 2017.