February produce performance results are in and deflation in fruit is improving demand. However, demand is not offsetting the loss in dollar sales from deflation. In addition, volume movement looks decent but dollars are down on the fruit side. Vegetables still look very similar compared to previous months: dollars up due to inflation, volume/units down due to pullback on demand.
“While inflation is moderating month-over-month, the average price per unit across all food and beverages increased 11.2% year-on-year in February 2023,” shared Jonna Parker, Team Lead, Fresh with IRI. “This adds to a long stretch of months with double digit year-over-year increases. Salaries are not keeping pace, leading to continued concern and a host of money-saving measures among grocery shoppers.” To understand the ongoing balancing act between time, money and nutrition goals, IRI, 210 Analytics and the International Fresh Produce Association will continue to deliver monthly fresh produce performance reports.
- According to the February 2023 IRI primary shopper survey, 29% of Americans work from home one or more days per week, down from 41% in February 2022 and 47% in February 2021. As more workplaces are expecting employees to work onsite one or more days a week, the struggle for time is likely going to intensify. “This is a prime opportunity for value-added produce,” said Joe Watson, IFPA’s VP, Retail, Foodservice and Wholesale. “Salad kits, on-the-go fruit and vegetable snacks and oven-ready, pre-washed vegetable items are great solutions to keep the lunch, dinner and snacking dollar at retail.”
- Restaurant takeout has become a bigger foodservice occasion than eating on premise. Per the February IRI survey, 50% of U.S. households have ordered takeout in the past few weeks versus 45% who ate on premise and 19% who ordered delivery. “Restaurant takeout and delivery present a continued opportunity for a win at retail,” Parker added. “Much like consumers create hybrid meals mixing scratch cooking with semi- and fully-prepared items at home, many also add fresh produce to delivery or takeout — items such as salad kits or fruit to round out restaurant meals.”The vast majority of meals continue to be prepared at home, at a consumer-estimated 79.3%. “This is down from December, which is the most home-centric month in terms of meals, but remains well above pre-pandemic levels,” Parker shared. Gen Z and younger Millennials eat out more, averaging a lower 76.4% of meals at home, whereas at-home meal preparation peaks among Boomers at 81.3% of meals.
- In-store shopping remained prevalent, according to the February IRI survey, with 69% of shoppers exclusively buying grocery-type items in-store, whereas 12% buy most or all groceries online. Demographic gaps remain with online shoppers skewing younger and more affluent. “In total, 31% of American households purchased some or all their groceries online in February,” Parker said. “That means optimizing fresh produce performance includes optimizing in-store and online conditions to avoid dollars leaking to frozen, canned or other retailers/categories.”
- Nine in 10 consumers perceive the cost of groceries and everyday household items to be much (70%) or somewhat (21%) higher than last year, per the IRI survey, of whom 95% are somewhat or extremely concerned about it. “Price increases for fresh produce have been below average for years, yet, consumers perceive fresh fruits and vegetables as being more expensive,” Watson pointed out.
- At the same time, consumers continue to report that they are seeing fewer items on sale (55%) and the items on sale not being discounted as much (47%). When seeing deals, 45% stock up on certain items out of concern that prices may rise further or they might not be available on future trips.
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