C-stores & Other Channels Steal Produce Sales From Grocery Stores

grocery bag with produce

ORLANDO, Fla. — While traditional grocery maintains a dominant lead in sales, a younger generation shows a greater propensity for supercenters and alternative channels  including online, dollar stores, convenience stores and farmers' markets — when it comes to purchasing produce.

According to The Power of Produce, a new study from Food Marketing Institute, 34 percent of older millennials identified a supermarket as their primary grocery store for produce and half of all shoppers identified a full-service supermarket as their primary outlet when buying fresh produce. Additionally, 55 percent of grocery trips contain fresh produce.

"Since produce is becoming more widely available as subscriptions, and available across drug and dollar, or even at the airport, the opportunity to differentiate the produce category in grocery is ripe for consideration," commented Rick Stein, FMI vice president, Fresh Foods.

The new analysis from FMI reveals that:

  • Fifty-five percent respondents want expanded local assortment. However, the very definition of local has a wide range, with the average response being an 88-mile radius.
  • Value-added produce — including cut, chopped, halved, hearts, microwave-ready or even snack packs delivers myriad solutions for time starved customers. Shoppers could be prompted to buy value-added produce under certain conditions, such as competitive pricing (59 percent) and longer shelf life (35 percent).
  • Thirty-six percent of shoppers eat fresh produce about three times a week or less, and they're interested in incorporating produce into different meal occasions. For example, 56 percent of shoppers purchase veggie shakes or fruit smoothies and 53 percent purchase cold press juicesThese shares do not include similar beverages people make at home or buy from other areas of the store, such as kombucha.

"The new study aims to reinvigorate the produce category and serve as a reminder to grocery retailers that they can't get too comfortable as the leader in sales," Stein commented. "Specifically, the study suggests a need for a renewed focus on strategies for continued growth, including organic, locally grown produce, value-added produce for time-starved customers, produce-based beverages and private branded produce."