Emerging Markets / July 1, 2019

2019 Fruit Trends: Convenience, Connection and Conscience

Each year, Fruit Logistica—the world’s leading trade show for the fruit and vegetable industry (a favorite Farmfolio event)—releases an annual report on industry trends. The 2019 Fruit Trends report provides in-depth analysis of not only what consumers are purchasing, but also why they make the decisions they do. While the motivations factoring into these decisions are always nuanced, 2019 fruit trends reveal three key drivers behind consumer purchasing of fresh fruits and vegetables: convenience, connection, and conscience. Farmfolio’s La Dona pineapple brand is an excellent example of a story-driven brand providing the consistently superior taste and quality consumers expect.

2019 Fruit Trends: Convenience, Connection, and Conscience

Convenience and Quality
One clear development in the produce industry is customers always expect quality—every store, every fruit, every time. The 2019 Fruit Trends report, which compiles 6,850 customer responses from 14 markets throughout Europe and North America as well as project experience at Oliver Wyman and 20 interviews with industry experts—finds that for 59% of respondents, the quality of fresh food available is the deciding factor in selecting which store to visit.

This should be motivating to retailers, because satisfaction with produce offerings ultimately leads to higher overall sales. Shoppers satisfied with the quality of fresh food available at a store visit 7% more frequently and their average basket size is 24% larger. 47% of customers surveyed also say they are willing to pay more for higher quality fresh food.

While quality has always been important to customers, a new development is the emphasis on taste in determining quality. Survey analysis finds that “the top three drivers [in determining customer satisfaction with fresh produce] are the appearance of the produce, its taste, and its size and shape.” Appearance is an old value. Surprisingly, taste is rather new. This bodes well for products like La Dona’s MD-2 pineapple, which markets superior taste as the product’s hallmark.

Customers also expect quality to come with ease. Fruit Logistica reports, “healthy eating and convenience are extremely relevant concerns for many. As trends, they are not as contradictory as they might first appear: customers in certain segments want to eat healthily with the greatest possible convenience. This is providing producers, suppliers and retailers with new opportunities and challenges.”

Connection
Our world values information, perhaps more than ever before. Produce is no exception. “Consumers are generally becoming much more sophisticated in terms of how they shop. Not only are they more environmentally conscious, but they demand more information about the products they choose to buy,” Fruit Logistica’s report explains. “Just where their fresh fruit and vegetables come from, how they were produced, how fresh they really are: these are of increasing relevance to consumers in many markets.”

Because of this, the most successful brands are those that “go out of their way to build an emotional connection with consumers, one that establishes trust – and consequently customer loyalty, encouraging [repeat] purchases and creating a brand premium.” La Dona pineapple achieves this by ensuring Edna Vergara’s story is both visually and metaphorically the heart of the brand. Her passion, skill, and experience establish a foundation of trust with the customer while also providing a narrative they can connect with.

The 2019 Fruit Trends report recognizes that emotional connection is a very real customer need. Produce “customers want to know not only that their produce is fresh, but also that it is ephemeral and unique, located in a specific time and place and inherently linked to the experience of producing it and consuming it. For high-end consumers, particularly the young, food’s identity and the purity of its supply are becoming increasingly intertwined with a sense of personal identity.”

Conscience
Our emotional connection with food naturally leads us to care about the impact of its journey to our plate. “Slow food, farmers’ markets and street food are all trends that point towards a different attitude to consumption, one which means that we expect whatever we eat to give us great enjoyment but at the same time to leave us with a clear conscience, secure in the knowledge that we have not harmed the environment,” Fruit Logistica reports. “This is consumption very much as virtue, eating as identity.”

This is especially important in European markets. In England, 43% of respondents report their purchasing is influenced by how sustainable they perceive the store to be. All retailers interviewed in the project view sustainability as “a high priority for their company.”

Committing to sustainable agricultural practices and then communicating their value is key on the sourcing end. Packaging is one of the most visible elements of sustainability on the purchasing end. 87% of respondents say they are concerned about the impact of plastic packaging on the environment and 73% say they hope to minimize the amount of packaging they used. Plastic-free shipping, like reusable or recyclable paper or cardboard (check out the new La Dona boxes) is an excellent alternative.

Putting the Pieces Together
Some trends are fleeting, while others represent lasting shifts in industries and markets. Fruit Logistica’s insights into 2019 fruit trends feel like the latter. Customers want:

  • Fresh produce that is both more convenient and healthier
  • Fruit and veg with an emotional connection, to which they can relate like brands
  • A clear conscience, with greater origin transparency and less environmental impact

Brands like La Dona, which can check all these important boxes, are well positioned for growth in 2019 and beyond. Food is so much more than calories. As the 2019 fruit trends reveal, food is intimately linked to our identity as people. How we grow, move, and sell our food should reflect that reality.