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Fresh-cut and ready-to-eat ranges will become more popular

Fresh-cut sales continue to increase and the phenomenon is expected to continue for the simple reason that very few families purchase them regularly.

"In 2017, the fresh-cut and ready-to-eat product trend has grown by 4% in both volume and value compared to 2016. Industrial brands have increased their share by 8% despite their market share already being 40%," explains AIIPA fresh-cut President Gianfranco D'Amico (in photo).

Aiipa presented a research from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan titled "Market positioning of fresh and ready-to-eat vegetable products within the retail industry."

Interviewees reported consuming single-variety (around 50%) and mixed salad bags (48%) occasionally (2/3 times a week) or often (almost every day). This is definitely a testimony to the trust people have for the category and its service content. The increase in vegetable consumption is due mainly to the "time for money" concept - people have less time to cook and therefore prefer products that are ready to eat (46%) with a practical packaging (30%).

"There is still a lot that needs to be done, but this is a stimulus to keep segmenting the supply. 80% of consumers see fresh-cut products on the shelves but still won't buy it. Companies need to invest in research to gain the favour of these consumers. We need to segment supplies and widen our range, but retailers need to play their part too."

By saying that "retailers need to play their part too", the president means that very little space is destined to refrigerated vegetables in supermarkets. Almost all vegetable processing facilities operate in controlled temperature conditions, but there are very few refrigerated counters in stores.

"The price of fresh-cut produce is a false problem, as consumers don't have an exact perception of the price of these products. They buy them but would not be able to say how much they cost. Even though price was reported as a factor that led to a reduced consumption of vegetables, consumers still wouldn't change their habits, even if the products cost less. Consumers are willing to pay what it takes to make their life easier. Soups and bowls are part of this reasoning as well."

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