With summer now here, many of us should be focused on ditching winter comfort foods in exchange for a better, more healthful diet packed with fresh fruits and vegetables. However, Nielsen Homescan data reveals that last summer*, this assumption did not necessarily hold true. While total dollar sales for fresh fruits and vegetables increased by 9% last summer versus the previous year (outpacing total grocery dollar growth of 1%); the amount of fruits and vegetables Australians actually consumed (volume sales in kilograms) declined slightly (-2%).
With higher average prices over the past year contributing to this slight decline in volume consumption, it has never been more important to focus on driving up the amount of fresh produce consumers purchase per shopping occasion. Retail prices for fruits and vegetables have eased in recent months, providing more opportunity to increase volume consumption as households change their diets to kick start the new year.
*Summer period measured (December 2016 - February 2017)
For the past two summers, avocados, mangoes, berries and melons all recorded strong dollar sales growth - well ahead of the total fresh produce benchmark. Similar trends were seen for fresh salad and cucumbers.
Encouragingly, fresh produce items deemed as ‘superfoods’, including kale, blueberries and avocados, are growing in popularity and represent a big opportunity in appealing to the ‘healthy elite’ Australian consumer. Nielsen Consumer & Media View (CMV) research shows that this group represents 17% of all Australians aged over 14. Almost three-in-four of these consumers choose to follow a low fat diet; 58% say they try to buy organic whenever they can (+7% over the past five years); and 38% follow a diet that is mainly vegetarian. On top of this, Asian-born Australians are a growing part of the Australian population and are 1.2 times more likely to purchase fresh produce when compared to all Australians.
So which fresh produce superfoods have been driving category success?
Avocados and berries have been particular stand outs in summer 2016, growing in dollar sales by 19% and 15%, respectively, versus 2015. This growth has been driven by continued investment in production, with avocados (+32% in volume sales) and berries (+21% in volume sales) the top two fastest growing commodities in fresh produce in summer 2016 compared with 2015.
A key driver of berry sales has been the blueberry which increased by 25% in value and 36% in volume (kg). Blueberries are now purchased by 55% of Australian households - up from 46% a year ago.
A potential future favourite, kale is a popular among households under 35 years with no children. More than one-in-five (21.7%) of this group have purchased kale at least once in the past year. However pick up in other demographic groups is much lower with only 14% of all Australian households purchasing kale over the past year. As the pick up in Australian households is still low relative to similar vegetables such as lettuce, fresh salad and Asian vegetables, there is much opportunity yet to grow sales by encouraging kale into the mainstream.
Avocados, berries, mangos and melons were the fastest growing categories last summer and more than half of all Australian households purchased them at least once over the past year.
Stonefruit, such as plums, cherries and apricots; and tropicals, including papaya and lychee; have an opportunity to grow sales by encouraging new buyers. Less than half of all Australian households purchased these fruits over the course of the last year.
As Australians become more focused on keeping their health in check, a diet loaded with fresh fruit and vegetables has never been more important. There are opportunities for growers and retailers to capitalise on consumers interest for fresh, healthy foods, and grow produce department sale by bringing more Australian households into a broader range of fruit and vegetable categories throughout the year.
Measuring what consumers buy is at the core of Nielsen’s 90 year history. Our Homescan Shopper Panel was established in 1986 and is robust, trusted, credible, and one of the biggest shopper panels per capita in the world. It monitors shopper behaviour across a panel of 10,000 households which is projected to accurately represent the Australian population and retailing landscape.
Nielsen Consumer & Media View is a rolling survey of more than 20,000 Australians aged 14 and above. It captures their lifestyles, behaviours, passions and attitudes toward almost every aspect of their life. It’s great for helping advertisers understand the everyday Australian consumer that they want and need to communicate with. We also include media consumption data with the fusion of official TV, radio and digital audience ratings to get a rounded view of how brands can best target and reach their target audiences. To find out more about how CMV can help you more effectively plan your marketing, please contact your Nielsen representative.
When integrated with retail sales data, the powerful insights drawn from our Shopper Panel enables you to identify the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’ behind your brand sales allowing you to fine-tune your marketing strategies.