Fresh research has revealed interesting insights into how Australians shop and eat celery. Shoppers enjoy the versatility of this vegetable: eaten in salads, as part of a recipe, and often munched on in its natural state – raw.
Celery is purchased in various formats and often makes an appearance in different meals throughout the day, using a variety of cooking methods.
65% of Australians eat celery for dinner, 37% for lunch, and 24% munch on celery as a snack throughout the day2. Raw is a popular choice, with 40% of Australians eating the crunchy stalk raw, while 13% are including it in their soups2.
When looking at the vegetable category more widely, celery is situated around the middle of its competitive set in terms of the percentage of households purchasing. For example, while 66% of households purchased celery, more households bought carrots (94%), and cucumber (80%)1. While there is a higher percentage of households buying celery, than beans (52%) or cabbage (54%), there is nevertheless an opportunity to grow the number of Australian households buying celery.
While celery dollar sales are down 3.6%, volume (kg) sales are up 4.8% compared to the prior year1. However, purchasing behaviour related to the packaging and cuts of the celery available in stores reveals the needs of the time-poor shopper.
Celery hearts and sticks, mostly sold in easy-to-grab packs, are a pocket of rapid double digit growth, and are driving dollar sales growth for the category in major supermarkets3. Hearts and sticks have increased by 23% in volume (kg) and 19% in dollar sales in the last year in major supermarkets1. Meanwhile, whole celery and half celery are down 5% in dollar value1.
Convenience and tailoring to the different uses of celery have been important drivers behind the growth of hearts and sticks, as price trends remain relatively stable. On-the-go snacking is an example of where we see an innovation that tailors to the time-poor shopper looking for a healthy option. This is a potential opportunity for celery. In the U.S., the snackable fruit and vegetable category posted a compound annual growth rate of more than 10% every year between 2012 and 20164.
1. Nielsen Homescan MAT to 27/01/2018 vs YA
2. Attitudinal reports prepared by Nielsen for Hort Innovation, survey sample n=300, fieldwork from 13/11/2017 to 21/11/2017 for the Australian market.
3. Major supermarkets is defined here as the sum of Woolworths, Coles and Aldi