Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Production Research
Demand for healthy foods, growing or not?

September 9, 2014  By Steve Lovejoy Professor and MSU Extension Specialist

September 9, 2014, East Lansing, MI – While consumer demand for healthy foods seems to be expanding, fruit and vegetable sales in the U.S. grew just 14 per cent from 2008-13 and much of that growth was the result of higher prices rather than increased consumption.

In the past few years, healthy organic food has certainly become a popular alternative to traditional eating habits. People seem to be spending more money on fruits and vegetables. So why hasn’t the food industry seen a substantial increase in consumption?

One reason for this might be convenience. Consumers are increasingly interested in finding convenient shortcuts in preparing their fruit and vegetable dishes. Nearly four in ten (38 per cent) consumers buy pre-packaged salad mixes and more than a quarter (26 per cent) of consumers buy pre-cut, pre-packaged fruit and vegetables. There has been a significant drop in fruit and vegetable use during family dinners. To increase the usage of fruit and vegetables, producers may want to incorporate recipes in their packaging. This marketing tactic would show consumers how they could easily implement fruits and vegetables into their daily diet. The recipes could be distributed as fact sheets or as QR codes at supermarkets, farmers markets or other marketing channels.

Some good news for producers is that two small segments of this industry – frozen fruit and dried beans – have experienced exceptional growth from 2011-13. While the processed fruit market was relatively stagnant, frozen fruit grew 34.6 per cent netting $911 million in sales for 2013. Similarly, while dried beans represent a small percentage of the overall vegetable market, sales have grown by 21.7 per cent netting an impressive $597 million in 2013. Both of these trends present exciting opportunities for producers.

Looking to the future, expansion in fruit and vegetable sales will depend heavily on market players’ abilities to appeal to consumer demand.

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