How the Pandemic Has Affected Produce Sales

Posted in Innovation Written by Chris Schotsman

People shop with their eyes — and what can be more enticing than a produce department full of brightly coloured fruits and fresh veggies? With the quality of fresh produce cited as the top reason consumers choose one grocery store over another, your produce department needs to impress.

The pandemic has changed the way consumers think and feel about meal preparation. With restaurants no longer a reliable option — they seem to be the first casualties when new variants of the virus emerge — people have cultivated a new appreciation for the home-cooked meal. And they're looking for more than just a box of Hamburger Helper.

People want to eat healthier…

With more time on their hands and fewer opportunities to eat out, people are cooking from scratch more often. That, and the desire to "eat healthier" has increased the demand for fresh produce. And because people aren't traveling or eating out, they're willing to experiment with new ingredients and splurge on more exotic fare, such as papaya and dragon fruit.

Eating healthy involves meal planning, food prep, cooking and clean-up. To make things more convenient for customers, retailers continue to do a lot of meal prep work for customers, including the produce portion — things such as peeled and cut squash and fruit, veggie noodles and salad kits.

We see this trend growing because it speaks to the need for convenience plus the desire for more healthy eating.


So what does this mean for you, the food retailer?

Having attractive, well-stocked displays is the goal of every retailer, so it makes sense when creating a new produce department (or revamping an existing one) to create a sense of freshness, seasonality and convenience for customers. A great way to do this is to include a variety of flexible merchandising displays that create a mass display without the need to overstock perishable produce items.

When planning your produce department, you have to make it easy for shoppers to navigate while making your displays interesting and irresistible — a great design allows you to create a show for consumers that changes with each passing season. Having flexible display units (like our produce tables, market tables, and our popular Fresh Go bins) allows retailers to change their layouts quickly without losing visual impact, keeping things looking fresh and new.


There are other factors and trends to consider when displaying produce…

The produce department is one area of your store where you can make the biggest impact. Here are some things to consider when designing your space:

  • Direct plenty of light at the products, using the right color and temperature of the light to enhance the natural colour of your produce.
  • Switch or mix-up long runs of tables with more flexible options, such as pods.
  • Create areas that allow for cross-merchandising opportunities, like a Caprese salad or Taco Tuesday station.
  • Take advantage of your consumer’s interest in health by positioning produces as a healthy snack alternative.
  • Incorporate a mix of mass displays with smaller displays. For example, with potato displays, put mass bagged displays on the bottom with displays of loose and specialty potatoes above.
  • Use flexible, mobile cases that are to keep both critical temperature (below 40°F) for things like cut fruit, and more moderate temperatures for products like berries.

But perhaps the biggest trend of all is the one toward more home cooking — something I don't see ending any time soon. Families have discovered what their parents and grandparents have always known — cooking a meal from scratch is a satisfying, healthy and economical way for families to bond with each other. The Food Industry Association polled over 1,000 consumers, and 22% have improved their cooking skills, with 29% reporting being better at meal planning. A whopping 51% said they'd continue to make meals at home more often.


It’s all about the presentation!

Produce merchandising — like most merchandising — is about product presentation. It's what grabs a customer's attention and triggers their buying instinct. To gain the edge over your competitors, you have to attract customers while finding ways to preserve freshness and minimize shrink. Because our Fresh Go bins are a convenient and attractive way to add refrigerated units to the floor, your customers are drawn to them, increasing your sales and reducing shrink in produce categories like berries, grapes and salad kits.

The pandemic has created many challenges…but there are also plenty of opportunities for those who understand the changing consumer landscape.

At Cayuga Displays, we’re all about helping you solve display issues and capitalize on current trends so you can stand out from the competition. By using innovative product displays (designed to suit any store layout, regardless of size) you'll be able to attract and retain loyal shoppers.

Schedule a consultation to see how Cayuga Displays can help you promote your unique brand.

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