- Sales of value-added fruits and vegetables have grown by double digits over the past several years, creating all sorts of merchandising opportunities for produce departments, according to Grocery Headquarters.
- Value-added options focused on snacking and on kids are particularly popular in retail stores these days. Crunch Pak offers bags of sliced apple rings, while Stemilt sells bags of kid-sized fruit called “Lil Snappers”.
- Suppliers and other industry sources recommend that retailers offer a special cut fruit section inside their produce departments. Some sources also recommend services like a produce butcher, though this can be expensive.
According to Nielsen Fresh, sales of value-added produce are growing faster than regular produce, making value-added fruits and vegetables the hottest choices in one of grocery’s most popular departments right now.
Shoppers value freshness and convenience, and value-added companies have stepped in with an assortment of creative options to lure customer to store. These days, produce consumers can find everything from pre-cut avocados to veggie noodles and grab-and-go strawberries. For those who hate preparing mushrooms, there are pre-sliced options. Shoppers that want a pre-made snack, meanwhile, can find trays of pre-cut carrots and celery with hummus.
It’s easy to get swept up in these exciting new offerings, but retailers need to stay focused on top sellers and a curated assortment. Too much packaged, bagged and shrink-wrapped produce, after all, and the department starts to lose its fresh appeal.
So what are the best value-added offerings of the bunch? Cut fruit is a must. Mainstream grocers like Publix offer an extensive selection here. Harmons, a grocery chain in Utah, offers dozens of cut-fruit selections in a separate island display within its produce department, with sizes ranging from 8-ounce meal sides to 3-pound tubs that can feed an entire party. Veggie noodles are seeing a lot of interest among gluten-free consumers and those looking for a healthier way to make pasta. Cauliflower is hot right now as well, and is used as a healthier rice substitute. Bagged salads are also top sellers, with suppliers offering more unique ingredients like pomegranates, almonds and feta cheese.
Produce managers should merchandise top sellers prominently in the department and promote them through signage, store circulars and other avenues. At the same time, retailers should leave room to try some new options. Enticed by the latest value-added take on avocados or Brussels sprouts? Slot them in for a month and see if shoppers bite.