Grocery Produce Sales Driven by Healthy Living and At-Home Cooking

ARLINGTON, VA – FMI—The Food Industry Association, today releases the 2021 Power of Produce, which finds produce department sales reached $69.6 billion in 2020—an 11.4% increase. The survey of produce grocery shoppers, released at The Southeast Produce Council (SEPC) Southern Exposure event, finds shoppers are purchasing more produce than pre-COVID-19 pandemic with shoppers buying more fresh fruit (+8.9%) and more vegetables (+14.2%).

“We see two major trends driving the growth of produce sales—at-home cooking and health and well-being,” Rick Stein, vice president of fresh foods for FMI said. “Shoppers tell us they are cooking more at home; they are eating more vegetables at dinner and lunch and more fruit for breakfast and snacks. While these trends began in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re likely to see them continue due to younger generations driving these trends.”

Produce and Health and Well-being

During the COVID-19 pandemic, 44% of grocery shoppers say they are putting more effort into healthful eating. In fact, 71% of grocery shoppers say nutrition and health is a primary or important reason for purchasing fruits and vegetables. Shoppers tell us produce offers them nutrients, digestive health, an overall healthy eating pattern, heart health and immune support. With 85% of shoppers welcoming more nutrition information about fresh fruits and vegetables, food retailers have the opportunity to utilize the expertise of registered dietitians to engage with consumers and share credible messaging on nutrition attributes and the health benefits of including fruits and vegetables. 

Cooking Produce

More than three-out-of-four shoppers (78%) have changed their meal preparation with fruits and vegetables, including trying different kinds, using new spices and sauces or testing new preparation methods. Half of shoppers are integrating fruits and vegetables into their meal plans somewhat or at lot more often, and while 41% rely on friends and family for meal inspiration the appetite for recipe websites, YouTube, cookbooks and social media is strong. The opportunity continues for retailers to be a source of inspiration for family meals that include fruits and vegetables.   

The Opportunity for Value-added Produce

With shoppers cooking more than previously the need for convenience is paramount. The share of shoppers who purchase value-added produce — pre-washed or cut—increased from 31% in 2019 to 37% in 2020. Three-out –of-10 shoppers believe they will purchase more value-added produce in the upcoming year—the highest share in four years. The rise in at-home cooking has not diminished the need for convenient meal solutions among shoppers.

In addition to these focus areas, the report outlines produce packaging and sustainability trends, online produce purchasing habits and looks at fresh versus frozen food trends. The Produce for Healthy Living video highlights grocery shoppers’ health and well-being trends. The Power of Produce 2021 was conducted by 210 Analytics and made possible by the Southeast Produce Council, Burris Logistics and Yerecic Label.

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About FMI

As the food industry association, FMI works with and on behalf of the entire industry to advance a safer, healthier and more efficient consumer food supply chain. FMI brings together a wide range of members across the value chain — from retailers that sell to consumers, to producers that supply food and other products, as well as the wide variety of companies providing critical services — to amplify the collective work of the industry.