Trends in the fresh fruit and vegetable market 

 As the year commenced, diverse food companies and trade platforms have shared their predictions for the top food trends that will shape the fresh produce market. Here we share some:

1. A focus on health and longevity. Consumers increasingly see a correlation between what they eat, how they feel, and their health needs. While shopping, consumers are paying more attention to exotic or special-quality fruit and vegetables. Especially in north/western Europe, products with specific health characteristics such as berries, avocados, mangoes, pomegranates, papayas and sweet potatoes have become more popular, and named as “super foods”.

The marketing for these niche products is growing, provoking a sales boom, particularly within the high-end market. As a consequence, these products are showing a strong annual import growth of 10% to 20%, while other more common and large-volume products such as oranges and tomatoes have seen little growth.

2. Convenience food. Stores are predicting high demand for refrigerated snacks in “single-serve packaging.” Healthy snacking is on the rise, with “grabbing and going” becoming the norm. Whole Foods predicts products such as nutrition bars will be increasingly made using fresh fruit and vegetables and for that, there are higher levels of innovation required. Additionally, it is expected that the plant-based diet movement will keep growing, particularly relevant for meat substitution products, and is expected to reach $2.5 billion value by 2023.

3. The popularity of pure and organic. A significant number of North American and European consumers are seeking pure and natural products. The principal motivation for them to buy organically produced fruit and vegetables is that they are associated with health and better taste. Currently, the demand for organic products exceeds the supply, making it easier to find buyers and better margins. On the other hand, it can be challenging for exporters in tropical climates to comply with the increasingly demanding organic standards.

4. Retail success determined by quality. According to the 2019 Fruit Logistica trend report, consumers are becoming much more sophisticated in terms of how they shop. Consumers are selecting the place to buy their groceries based on the quality of the store’s fresh food, the fresh fruit and vegetable section being the top priority. The survey conducted also showed evidence that customers satisfied with the store’s fresh food quality would visit 7% more frequently than those who are not. Additionally, consumers are willing to pay more for higher-quality fresh produce and their average basket will be 24% larger. This demonstrated the increased importance of fresh fruit and vegetables for the profitability of food retail business, over space expansion and promotion share, for driving sales.

5. Sustainability: There is a large range of environmental and socio-economical sustainability aspects related to the fresh produce industry that can have an impact in various stages of the fruit and vegetable supply chain. Some of the most important in the industry, excluding economic sustainability, is water, food loss/waste, packaging, chemical use and energy. More companies in the sector will invest in sustainability, motivated by the benefits of investing in them, and their brand reputation.

Recent survey Champions 12.3 showed that a large group of 1,200 companies in the food sector invested in food reduction and received a 99% of positive return of the investment. Primary production companies are starting to invest in aspects such as food losses, energy efficiency and carbon footprint, through innovations such as drying produce, on-farm & off-grid cold rooms, and post-harvest treatments.

Sustainability issues are growing in importance among consumers, and they are increasing their level of knowledge with regards to how their food is produced. According to a report by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), 93% of global consumers expect the brands they use to support social and environmental issues.

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