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Fresh Foods Dominate the Total Store Bracket Two Years Running
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Fresh Foods Dominate the Total Store Bracket Two Years Running

It’s March. And that means it’s bracket time in the U.S. But when it comes to springtime match-ups, the action isn’t confined to the basketball court. Competition across the grocery store is fierce, so we’ve taken an in-depth look across the aisles to see which categories came out on top in our second annual Total Store Bracket.

To find out, we evaluated the top 16 product groups across the entire store and organized them into brackets. From there, we calculated winners based on year-over-year dollar sales growth for 2014 and 2015. In the battle for points, our final four products highlight how important fresh foods are to consumers. The results also emphasize consumer desires for health and wellness and convenience products. Notably, this year’s results aren’t that different from last year’s. And these products aren’t just growing dollar sales because of rising prices. In fact, the products that made it to the final four all gained on volume sales as well.

When we take a closer look at the fresh items driving growth within the final four, products with health and wellness and convenience features rise to the top.

  • Vegetables: Packaged salad, a convenient and increasingly innovative category, and value-added vegetables, another convenience category that includes pre-cut veggies and veggie trays, have been big growth drivers in this inherently healthy category. Packaged salad and value-added vegetables increased dollar sales 9% and 8%, respectively, in 2015.
  • Fruit: Growth of products like value-add fruits (think pre-cut mixed fruit and apples), and other convenient products like mandarins, which fit the bill for convenient, single-serving snacking, helped propel fruit into the final four. In 2015, value-added fruits increased dollar sales 8%, while mandarins helped drive citrus sales up 8%.
  • Deli Prepared: As the growth powerhouse of the fresh department, all deli prepared items—from prepared chicken, salads and full entrees—posted dollar growth ranging from 5% to 15%.

Today’s grocery store has myriad moving parts, and they’re evolving steadily to meet shifting consumer needs. So the key for retailers and operators is to stay informed about pattern shifts and leverage growing categories through partnerships, promotions and merchandising.