US: 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 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 leader in on-pack labeling for consumer products. This latest study, Consumer Attitudes toward Packaged Fruits and Vegetables, conducted online and in-store, uncovers the keys that entice consumer purchasing habits, including buying additional fresh produce and/or trying new items, and also compares consumers’ preferences among packaged and loose products.
John Cravens, account manager, western region at Yerecic Label discussed the impact of the research at PMA’s Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition in Atlanta, Ga., in a recent interview with PMA TV. Cravens highlighted results of the study revealing that 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 percent of the produce they buy is packaged. Key factors driving consumers’ decisions to purchase packaged produce include:
Quality, meaning that with many consumers believing packaged produce is cleaner and safer to eat than loose produce;
Convenience of both the product and the packaging, and;
“Packaging provides even greater marketing opportunities for fresh produce by providing space to give the shopper desired information such as recipes, storage and handling instructions, finished dish photography and other information that make the product more convenient and appealing,” said Rich Thoma, vice president sales and marketing, Yerecic Label. “In addition, today’s sophisticated packaging is geared toward providing quantities that meet the needs of smaller households, ensuring consumers know they will be spending their money wisely and reduce waste.”
Consumers identified several attributes as most important packaged produce as preservation, freshness and taste, the produce being pre-washed, protection of the item, and easy storage in the refrigerator. When buying packaged produce, 75 percent 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. Just over 33 percent of consumers look for nutrition information so including nutritional information such as health benefits, calorie counts and carbohydrates will appeal to consumers looking for healthy items and recipes. 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. This study is available for download and free to PMA members. To learn more about the vital role of produce packaging, view PMA’s full spectrum of Packaging Solutions.