Consumer Attitudes Toward Packaged Fruits & Vegetables

By Rich Thoma, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Yerecic Label

Consumer lifestyles are busier and more hectic than ever, and we know they are on the look-out for products that speak directly to their needs. Convenient and simple solutions are important factors in consumer purchase decisions, and growing interest in healthy lifestyles has created an increased demand for convenient and enticing fresh foods. This presents the produce industry with new opportunities to look for innovative ways to appeal to consumers with packaging and label design, giving produce a fresh voice that speaks directly to consumers’ needs.

In a collaborative effort to explore the truth behind this industry-wide opportunity, the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), Yerecic Label and the Perishables Group (PG) completed a research study focusing on consumer behavior and preferences toward packaged produce. The three-phase study consisted of an Internet consumer survey, in-store consumer intercepts and in-store consumer video interviews.

Survey And Study Findings

All three phases of this study revealed a number of similar insights about consumers and packaged produce. We know that consumers are buying fresh produce frequently; more than 80 percent claim to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables weekly. Of this 80 percent, consumers say 15 percent or less is packaged. The most important driving factors for purchasing packaged fresh produce are price and cleanliness, with nutritional information and convenience not far behind.

When it comes to packaged produce, nearly 90 percent of consumers say the most important attribute is the ability to preserve freshness and taste. Consumers also like packaging that protects the product and stores easily in the refrigerator.

Consumers indicate that where print occurs on a package or label, size is important because they wish to be able to inspect the produce before purchase. In addition, consumers also indicated that they are attracted to packages displaying:

  • Imagery that offers cooking inspiration
  • Recipes that call for commonly known ingredients
  • Nutritional information
  • Clearly marked sell-by-date
  • Information about where the product is grown

Surveys revealed that convenience is the main reason consumers choose packaged produce over bulk items, but one of the main reasons consumers are deterred from purchasing packaged items are the perceived higher price and the inability to see or inspect produce through the packaging.

More than half of consumers surveyed prefer packaging that is environmentally friendly. As consumers become more conscious about the environment, packaging that indicates it is recycled, recyclable and biodegradable is preferred.

Consumers also revealed that they are not going far to find information about fresh produce, with more than half saying their information is gained in the store while shopping. These insights indicate that the content found on produce packaging and labels is paramount.

Label Findings

During the in-store intercepts, consumers were randomly shown different cauliflower and Brussels sprouts labels created by Yerecic Label. The new labels contained the imagery and information that consumers in previous perishable research stated that they desire to see.

A majority of consumers stated that they are attracted to the recipe on the cauliflower label as well as the picture of the cauliflower dish. When asked to name the most important factors on a label that impact their purchase decision, consumers stated that nutrition information and recipes with an associated image are the most enticing.

Two-thirds of consumers said they were attracted to the Brussels sprouts on-label recipe, and more than half said they like the picture and the brand image. Consumers said the most important factors on the label that influence their purchase decision are the recipe, nutrition information, and an image of the prepared dish.

Items Consumers Would Like to See Packaged

More than half of shoppers interviewed stated that everything they need can already be found as a packaged product. Of those interested in seeing more packaged products, apples and lettuce/greens are the most highly requested. Other responses include citrus, bananas, and avocados.

Industry Implications

This study shows that consumers want to see more packaged produce in an effort to add convenience and simplicity to their daily routine. Consumers seek to find information and inspiration about the product directly on the package. The research concluded that consumers would be motivated to purchase a fresh packaged product when imagery and simple recipes are prevalent on the label. Price continues to be the biggest deterrent to purchasing packaged produce, so produce companies should find ways to offer the consumer multiple reasons to purchase their product by applying innovative design and labeling to their products that indicate convenience, nutrition, inspiration and the ability to preserve freshness and taste.