Four megatrends driving perishable food sales

written by IFCO SYSTEMS, 17th May 2018, in Stories

If you work in the perishable supply chain, keeping up with trends and buyer perceptions can help you improve your processes. Now in its the 13th year, the Power of Meat report explores shopper’s perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors regarding fresh and processed meat and poultry. Power of Meat 2018 is prepared by Anne-Marie Roerink of 210 Analytics, LLC on behalf of the Annual Meat Conference. While the associated webinar offers several megatrends that are shaping customers purchase behavior relative to meat, fresh produce professionals can also gain insight and takeaways into the entire fresh shopping experience. Here’s what it says is driving fresh food sales:

One Size Fits Me

The days of a standard demographic are long gone. Retailers now strive to address the need for an increasing variety of shopper preferences. For a long time, Roerink observed, the meat case was laid out for a baby boomer audience that was knowledgeable about meat, "a one size fits all" approach. Now, we see considerable differences in preferences based on particular population groups.

While the price per pound continues to be the most significant consideration, millennials, for example, are more interested in cost per package and preparation time, while the higher income groups are more interested in nutrition. Anne-Marie noted variables such as age, income, regional, rural/urban and ethnic differences that influence how consumers approach their purchase decision. Faced with such diversity, having a variety of pack sizes and product options can help personalize the shopping experience. This can apply to the produce section as well.

Value Seeking

The value-seeking behavior of customers remains essential, underscoring the importance of making it easy for them to compare products and prices. The research pointed out that 41% of shoppers compare prices across stores, suggesting the importance of having items on the front page of ads, where they can be easily evaluated. Meanwhile, 57% of shoppers check to see what is on sale at their main store, and 74% compare between packages on the shelf to find the best value.

For value-conscious shoppers, retailers should consider making it as easy as possible for consumers to compare products, Roerink emphasized. It is essential to not just have the hottest ad, but the most relevant ad, including the right product at the right price, with the right messaging, the right timing and the right platform.


Product knowledge and engagement are critical to a customer’s willingness to experience a broad range of fresh products. Most perishable sectors suffer from shoppers who do not have adequate product knowledge. For meat specifically, survey results indicated that 53% of shoppers are merely managing or need help about selection. While 17% buy an extensive variety of cuts, 41% buy just a handful of cuts and don’t tend to try anything different. The good news, Roerink reported, is that while another 42% purchase only a handful of cuts, they would be willing to experiment with new items if advised. When it comes to fresh produce, the same can be said. Many shoppers might be hesitant to experiment with items they don’t have familiarity with.

The lack of knowledge and thirst for advice cuts across all demographics. The need to connect customers must, therefore, extend beyond the store as well as offering experiences in the store, combining digital and traditional approaches as well as personal engagement to entice customers.

People Powered Sales

Case-ready products continue to grow in importance and provide an opportunity for sales growth. Around 71% of purchases take place unassisted at the meat case. Over the last decade, 16% more shoppers have come to believe that case-ready product is higher quality, while 18% fewer shoppers believe that case-ready isn’t as good.

The report recommends leveraging customer acceptance of case-ready products to move the freed-up labor to the front of the case to assist shoppers in product education and selection.

Aside from eliminating the need for product handling behind the counter, case-ready products are also a powerful advantage in terms of one-touch stocking, especially when utilized in conjunction with display ready RPCs.

Customers expect a greater variety of packaging sizes and an ability to effortlessly compare between offerings to select the best value. Efforts to educate and engage shoppers can result in them sampling a broader range of products, which will likely result in them preparing more meals at home, rather than eating out. Increasingly, success is about connecting with customers through traditional marketing, digital marketing, and personal connection.

Whether fresh produce, protein or deli, RPCs can help provide the labor savings needed to redeploy staff hours in better serving the needs of customers. To check out the Power of Meat 2018 webinar for more information, click here.

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