Value for money

Older readers will recall the days when fruit and veggies, selected individually and placed into brown paper bags, were bought not only for flavour, but more so on price. In those days, price was the main consideration.

Today’s consumer has developed a whole new range of shopping requirements. They’ve also created a revised ‘order of merit’ when assessing what products offer value for money. In fresh produce, the retail price has slipped from the top spot it occupied 40-plus years ago and is now around sixth place in that ‘order of merit’.

Consumers require other benefits from the fruit and veggies they buy. They want better flavour linked to longer shelf life; a wider selection of varieties from the same product range; new, often exotic products; year-round availability; products free from poisonous chemicals; and above all – quality.

The message for serious producers is clear – adapt or die. To compete against other producers and develop a sustainable marketing strategy, a farmer needs to take into account what consumers expect in the products they buy.
If consumers don’t get what they want they simply move on to another brand or product. I once stood behind a shopper viewing new season cherries in a supermarket.

Their price was exorbitant – to me anyway! But she didn’t hesitate. She picked up a punnet and marched off to the till. She wanted cherries and they looked good, so she bought them. In her mind I’m sure she considered those cherries good value for money. One thing is for sure, though. Had those cherries not been early season as well as good quality she wouldn’t have bought them.

Wise farmers will do all they possibly can to grow products which satisfy the needs of the consumer. Different packaging options and attractive labelling have their role to play in the marketing mix, but ‘hidden qualities’, such as flavour, to mention only one, play a crucial part in the consumer’s opinion of the products they buy. These will, in fact, influence the consumer considerably more than the packaging. The bottom line for today’s consumer is: “I’ll pay, but give me what I want and make sure I get value for my money.”

Contact Mike Cordes at [email protected]. Please state ‘Market floor’ in the subject line of your email.