Fresh foods are now driving total store sales, with fresh produce emerging as a key factor driving store choice. According to Mintel's Food and Drink Shopper, 2017 report, sales of fresh fruit and vegetables dominate their respective categories, outselling their shelf-stable center of the store and frozen counterparts. And fresh produce continues to experience sustained growth, primarily due to consumers' increased interest in eating healthy foods that help maintain balanced diets.
The total fruit market grew 19 percent from 2012 to 2017, with fresh fruit representing over 90 percent of the market, according to Mintel research. The vegetable category grew 13 percent from 2011 to 2016. Fresh fruit and fresh vegetables drive most of the growth in each of their respective categories because of the perceived nutritional value and inherent "free from processing" status.
Mintel foresees continued growth for both categories, estimating 17 percent sales growth for the fruit category, which is projected to reach over $60 billion by 2022; and 10 percent sales growth for the vegetable category, which is projected to reach $61 billion by 2021. These growth forecasts are rooted in consumers' continued demand for healthy, flavorful and convenient food options.