Frozen fruit sales benefitted more than fresh fruit from the trends towards healthier diets which influenced the fresh food market in the United States last year.
According to Euromonitor, Americans are increasingly “counting ingredients, not calories” and eschewing heavily processed foods for fresh and natural offerings.
But in a summary of its latest Fresh Fresh Food in the US report, the market research provider says that while these trends seem like they would be an incredible boon to the fresh food market, “what has resulted instead is high growth in minimally (but still) processed food rather than in fresh food.”
“For example, in 2015 Americans flocked towards frozen fruit for their smoothies, which is only slightly processed and arguably just as healthy as fresh fruit.
“What fresh food lacks is the element of convenience – nor does it have an adequate shelf life for many consumers. Americans are convinced of the health benefits of a whole food diet, but are unwilling to commit the time and effort to a diet comprised primarily of fresh rather than processed food,” Euromonitor said.
Pulses lead the way
Also, while sales of fresh food increased by 1% in total volume terms over 2010-15 – with pulses recording by far the highest growth (8%) – eggs and fruit saw declines due to disease and poor conditions affecting yields. The drought in California, a key producer of fruit, vegetables and nuts, was one of the most significant factors affecting fresh food in the US in 2015, Euromonitor said.
Fresh food is expected to achieve a 1% total volume CAGR for the five years to 2020, with pulses again growing at the fastest rate.
Sustainable production key to growth
Euromonitor said the erratic weather, disease and legislative moves seen in the US in recent years have contributed to declines in some categories.
“In the future, the categories that are expected to record unequivocal increases are those with fresh food that is humanely and sustainably produced. These categories will thus not be party to restrictive legislation, which could thwart their sales growth, and their food is grown in a way that is tolerant of erratic weather; moreover, such food is not wholly dependent on international trade.
“Fulfilling these criteria makes a product more likely to be trusted by the public, and not be sensitive to external factors in terms of price. Pulses, as well as some starches such as sweet potatoes, for example, fulfil these requirements and are expected to continue the success they have had in past years.”
Retail channels increasingly offer fresh food
Over 2010-15, retail channels changed the way fresh food is sold. “There is an increasing prevalence of packaged fresh food sold via retail. For example, grocers have encouraged volume sales of fruits and vegetables by cutting and packaging the items in-store. Such practices increase retail profits, as these minimally processed products are sold at much higher margins.
Retail is also benefiting from the popularity of internet retailers, which are increasingly successful at fast delivery in order to maintain product freshness,” Euromonitor said.