- A new study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior finds that new parents increase their spending on fresh produce. On average, pre-parent households spent 10% of their food budget on produce; that rose to 12% once children joined the family.
- The study found that produce purchases differ based on income levels. The increased spending was only found among new parents in middle- and high-income households. Households with income less than 185% of the poverty level had no detectable change.
- Findings were based on spending and demographic data from 508 households that agreed to have their household purchases tracked through the Nielsen Homescan Consumer Panel dataset.
Across socioeconomic levels, just 12.2% of Americans eat the recommended amount of fruit and 9.3% meet vegetable recommendations, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. While consumption is less than it should be, higher income households with children are prioritizing produce purchases and seem to represent an opportunity for retailers to boost category sales.
That tracks with another recent report from Packaged Facts that found households with an income of more than $150,000 annually are focused on healthy living and willing to make more expensive purchases like value-added prepared foods, organic produce and fresh seafood. Given the higher margin on these purchases, affluent shoppers can have a "disproportionate impact" on grocers' bottom line, the report stated.
Packaged Facts also found that affluent shoppers are twice as likely to buy groceries online, which again overlaps with spending habits of parents. A recent survey from Valassis found that 42% of millennial parents order groceries for delivery, versus 30% of all shoppers, and other research has found that the demographic is willing to spend more on groceries and convenience.
Grocers have made the connection between young families and produce consumption. Numerous retailers offer free fruit to kids and merchandise baby food in and around the produce department. The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior study suggests retailers can do even more to link new parents to fresh produce purchases through loyalty programs, cross merchandising and other avenues.