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Every year since 1993, FRUIT LOGISTICA has hosted a global trade show serving the international fresh produce market. The show covers every sector of the fresh produce business to provide a comprehensive view of the innovations, products, and services along the international supply chain. The company also provides a trends report, often with a central theme. In 2019, this theme was "Surprises in the Store."
Their explanation of this theme centers on gaining an understanding of the dynamics at play with consumers as they purchase fresh fruit and vegetables. Their comprehensive surveys, which encompass markets in Europe and North America, not only explore consumer behavior but also how the world’s major grocery retail chains respond to consumer trends. They present their report at the show and make it available via free download here.
The introduction emphasizes how quickly the market for fresh produce is changing. They state:
"Customers now expect good quality fresh produce in every store. As a result, while grocery retail is seeking to use fresh produce to achieve market advantage, doing so is proving ever more challenging. Within this changing environment, fresh fruit and vegetables are becoming central to the success of any retail store."
The report notes that food supply chains are evolving in new directions. Additionally, perceptions of what's important in the fruit and vegetable market place are changing. Namely, consumers are generally becoming much more sophisticated in how they shop.
"Not only are they more environmentally conscious, but they demand more information about the products they choose to buy." These consumers are also much more aware of where their fresh fruit and vegetables come from, how they are produced, and the degree of freshness.
Consumer preferences towards fruits and vegetables. Source: FRUIT LOGISTICA's 2019 Trends Report
Parallel to these concerns, their research indicated the following: "Healthy eating and convenience are extremely relevant concerns for many. As trends, they are not as contradictory as they might first appear. Customers in certain segments want to eat healthily with the greatest possible convenience.
The 2019 trends report noted that these psychographic indicators provide producers, suppliers, and ultimately retailers with new opportunities and challenges. Knowing these issues can help suppliers, vendors, and other stakeholders in the larger fruits and vegetables industry better respond to the changing trends of those who buy their products.
The report provides detailed statistics and findings across many attributes of fruit and vegetable buyers. In the end, they are emphatic that customers are asking for distinctive products that are authentic in terms of their origin, as well as completely reliable for repeat purchases.
These customers want to have a clear conscience, yet demand increasing convenience. The report demonstrates how such contradictions can be met (which is already happening by innovative producers and retailers).
"Those at the leading edge have understood that success is not just about improved product ranges but also about developing relationships with those customers. Being completely reliable on quality is no longer enough to set retailers apart and enable them to win market share."
Importance of Food Satisfaction by Category. Source: FRUIT LOGISTICA's 2019 Trends Report
In particular, customers are attracted to the overall experience that exists in a store. They want it fresh, vibrant, and presented in a way that will increase their "theatre of retail." Thus, the fruit and vegetable supply chain is likely to be an important link to this performance as they are the ones who ensure the food from farm to table is of superior quality and maintains the optimal characteristics that consumers seek.
"There are going to be many surprises in store beyond the basket basics," the report concludes. "The emergence of those first easy-healthy convenience products is a sign of things to come. With all this in mind, these are certainly exciting times for the fresh fruit and vegetable business."
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