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Canadians' affinity for produce driven by economics and habits

Canadian supermarkets have been steering consumers towards more fresh produce products, especially when compared to their U.S. counterparts. The move is partly a reflection of Canadian consumers buying more fresh produce. But consuming fresh produce is also something that's more feasible in a country that has a larger middle class that can afford higher-priced fresh produce items.

In an article on the difference between American and Canadian supermarkets, the author makes a case for why America's bifurcated class landscape contributes to lower consumption of fresh produce in the United States. Evidence of the gap between the two nations is certainly available. Citing a 2010 report from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the article notes that Canadians have added almost 11 percent more vegetables to their diets over the last two decades. The average Canadian also eats about 80 more pounds of vegetables than meat every year, while the average American eats about 37 more pounds of meat than vegetables.

Economics a factor
Snack sales in North America are on the rise, and part of the allure of the candy, chips and sugary drinks is their low cost. There are many factors that can explain why unhealthy snack items are more popular than fresh produce, but the cheap nature of snack calories is certainly a factor. This is especially true when a consumer is on a tight budget, and compared to Canadian consumers, it seems more American consumers are on a tight budget.

Habits play a part, too
Canadian eating habits can also explain the disparity between the supermarkets in Canada and the U.S. Retailers respond to what consumers want, so if Americans consume more fresh produce then supermarkets will provide more fresh produce options. It's not easy to discern the degree to which the economic situation of American shoppers shapes their habits, but it's clear those habits, when compared to Canadian shopping habits, skew less toward fresh produce.

Supermarkets often display unhealthy items, like candy bars, at the checkout aisle because people buy them. If fruits and vegetables can command impulse buys, then they will likely occupy at least some of that space. As the original article pointed out, “if there are requests for bushels of kale, perhaps you'll see that in the checkout aisle someday.”

This article is a summary of the article 'How Canadian supermarkets are different from U.S. stores', written by Amber Nasrulla for Yahoo Canada News.

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