I RECENTLY READ the results of a consumer survey on fresh produce consumption during recession times, published in a US fresh produce publication, The Packer. Commissioned by the Produce Marketing Association, the survey found 14 out of 15 leading fruit and vegetables had maintained their consumption levels over the past six months. As one retail consultant said, “People will always keep on breathing, watching TV and eating!”
Potatoes topped the list of “recession-proof” products with 80% of those surveyed saying they continued to buy the same quantities over the past six months. Amongst the other high rankers were onions (79%), bananas (78%) and carrots (77%), with lettuce and apples holding a joint (75%). Broccoli, celery, oranges and grapes rated around 60%, with tomatoes, cabbage, green beans and cucumbers around 50%.
The survey suggested one of the reasons for this loyalty is consumers have an understanding of the benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables.
It also confirmed people go back to basics in tough times and value-added lines seem to suffer. Consumers will choose a loose head of lettuce for example, which is cheaper than the shrink-wrapped or bagged version.More than 60% of fresh produce is bought on impulse, but in a recession, consumers tend to stick to their shopping lists. A final observation was lower fuel prices meant consumers were prepared to travel more widely in search of bargains or better prices.
Application to South Africa
It’s encouraging to see fresh produce holding its own in difficult times. Our finance minister says we’re much better off than the rest of the world and at least the people producing, selling and consuming fresh produce in this country can remain bullish about the future. Value for money food comes in the form of fresh produce and now we can include “recession-proof” to its long list of benefits. Farmers can be confident in their produce, continue to improve quality and ensure sufficient volumes to feed the nation.
Value for money
In these challenging times, retailers can help by offering fresh produce at value for money prices, the authorities can put resources into improving this industry and consumers can continue enjoying the health benefits of fresh produce – value for money and “recession-proof”. It’s called a win-win situation. – Mike Cordes ([email protected]). |fw