ARLINGTON, VA. – FMI—The Food Industry Association released the 2021 Power of Produce this week at The Southeast Produce Council (SEPC) Southern Exposure event.

The report finds that produce department sales reached $69.6 billion in 2020—an 11.4% increase. Shoppers are purchasing more produce than pre-COVID-19, with shoppers buying more fresh fruit (+8.9%) and more vegetables (+14.2%).

“We see two major trends driving the growth of produce sales—at-home cooking and health and well-being,” said Rick Stein, vice president of fresh foods for FMI. “Shoppers tell us they are cooking more at home; they are eating more vegetables at dinner and lunch and more fruit for breakfast and snacks. While these trends began in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re likely to see them continue due to younger generations driving these trends.”

The report highlights three focus areas:

  • Produce and Health and Well-being - During the COVID-19 pandemic, 44% of grocery shoppers said they are putting more effort into healthful eating. In fact, 71% of grocery shoppers say nutrition and health is a primary or important reason for purchasing fruits and vegetables. With 85% of shoppers welcoming more nutrition information about fresh fruits and vegetables, retailers have the opportunity to utilize the expertise of registered dietitians to engage with consumers and share credible messaging on nutrition attributes and the health benefits of including fruits and vegetables.  
  • Cooking Produce - More than three-out-of-four shoppers (78%) have changed their meal preparation with fruits and vegetables, including trying different kinds, using new spices and sauces or testing new preparation methods. Half of shoppers are integrating fruits and vegetables into their meal plans somewhat or at lot more often. The opportunity continues for retailers to be a source of inspiration for family meals that include fruits and vegetables.    
  • The Opportunity for Value-added Produce - The share of shoppers who purchase value-added produce — pre-washed or cut—increased from 31% in 2019 to 37% in 2020. Approximately 30% of shoppers believe they will purchase more value-added produce in the upcoming year—the highest share in four years.

The report also outlines produce packaging and sustainability trends, online produce purchasing habits and looks at fresh versus frozen food trends. The Power of Produce 2021 was conducted by 210 Analytics and made possible by the Southeast Produce Council, Burris Logistics and Yerecic Label.