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A new survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers reveals that Americans are consuming more fresh products — including fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses — compared to three years ago. The nationwide trend away from processed foods is driven by healthier diets and lifestyles, according to data gathered in December 2016 by the OpinionWay for Bizerba and Invatron, providers of technology solutions dedicated to fresh food departments.
The study shows that 48 percent of Americans consume more fresh products than they did three years ago and that 41 percent say their consumption has remained stable over that period. Respondents strongly associate fresh products with high quality, better flavor, and less waste. According to the survey, consumers say their preference for fresh products is driven by a desire for a healthier lifestyle and diet.
Key findings of the survey include:
• Age is a determining factor in the preference for fresh products. Young people under the age of 35 are far more likely to choose fresh items than people aged 50 and older (58 percent versus 38 percent).
• Income is also a contributor. Only 45 percent of individuals in the lowest income group (less than $50,000/year) said their consumption of fresh products had increased over the last three years as opposed to 53 percent of people in the highest income group (over $75,000).
• Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they are more conscious of what they eat and prefer a healthier diet.
• “Fresh” is strongly associated with “quality.” Respondents said fresh products are more flavorful (75 percent), healthier (74 percent), better quality (74 percent), and contain more healthy ingredients (74 percent).
“Americans are more conscious than ever of the benefits of eating fresh, unprocessed foods and making healthier choices for their families,” said Rob Weisz, vice president of retail for Bizerba North America, in a press release. “People are cooking more at home, and the products they are finding in stores are high quality and increasingly easier to access in regular supermarkets.”
Supermarkets were rated as the best across all categories for buying fresh products, thanks to the variety of product offerings, the overall shopping experience and the best value for the money. The majority of respondents (63 percent) say they opt to shop at supermarkets ahead of natural and organic grocery stores (14 percent), wholesale clubs (9 percent), and discount stores (8 percent). Amazon and other online retailers are breaking into the market, but are the preferred medium of only 5 percent of Americans.
Appearance, quality, and price are the three key purchase triggers for consumers buying fresh products across all categories. The one exception is cheese, for which price is the deciding factor. For all other products, appearance is the primary driver, inciting consumers to purchase fresh products even if they were not planning to.
“The factors that trigger purchase of fresh products seem to be universal, with appearance, quality and price as the key trio for all stakeholders in fresh product consumption,” said Axel Doerwald, founder and CEO at Invatron Systems Corp., in a statement. “For retailers, and particularly the supermarkets that are the primary venue for the majority of consumers, highlighting these different qualities is essential in order to encourage purchasing decisions, an area where there is room to improve.”