With the increase in demand for healthy and convenient fresh food options, new research shows that packaging of fresh produce plays a critical role in consumer preferences. While investments in this area continue to increase, the latest consumer research from trade association Produce Marketing Association (PMA) shows that greater packaging options can influence purchasing behavior.
PMA conducted primary research in 2006 to gauge consumer attitudes toward packaged produce. As part of industry’s ongoing effort to increase the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, PMA conducted a follow up packaging study, sponsored by Yerecic Label, a manufacturer of on-pack labeling for consumer products.
According to the study, most U.S. consumers are buying fresh fruits or vegetables at least once per week, with the majority of respondents stating they believe less than 25% of the produce they buy is packaged. Packaging provides marketing opportunities for fresh produce by providing space for such information as recipes, storage and handling instructions, and finished dish photography and other information that make the product more convenient and appealing, points out Rich Thoma, vice president sales and marketing, Yerecic Label.
When buying packaged produce, 75% of shoppers look for use-by or sell-by dates on the packaging. Consumers want to ensure freshness and they use the dates as an indicator. Roughly one-third of consumers polled look for nutrition information. When it comes to recipes included on packaging, consumers want them written in simple terms and using commonly known ingredients.
Price was the biggest deterrent to consumers when deciding between packaged and loose produce. In order to get a premium for packaged produce the produce industry needs to show consumers the value of packaged produce. Retailers and suppliers of packaged produce need to promote convenience to the consumer and provide them with the information they want.