August 2022 – Insights to Action

Amid inflation, produce demand declines

Through the first thirty-two weeks of the year, inflation continues to boost dollar sales while pressuring volume. Produce dollars have grown 4.6% to $47B. This rate is a full 3 Points worse than total edible trends. Reduced demand has volume (4.4%) below last year and nearly a point behind edible. Fruit dollars have grown 7.0% above last year, while vegetable dollars are up 2%.1


The two largest regions in produce dollar sales are on opposite sides of the performance rankings. The Southeast continues to outpace U.S. at +7.0% vs. 2021, while the Northeast continues to struggle with only 2.3% growth.1

Berries continue as the top seller in produce with a large base business and notable dollar growth rate of 7.8%. Melon season is in full force, highlighting the fastest growing rates vs. year ago.1 Berries and grapes remain the only two commodities of the top ten that are also growing in volume. 


What to expect from shoppers in the current environment


More trips, less volume

Engagement is still elevated as shoppers understand that it is often more affordable to eat at home. However, they aren’t just paying more for groceries, they’re also bringing home fewer items due to cost restraints. 

Private label uptick

Private label items will also see an uptick with an EDLP strategy, while “premium” items such as organics may slow temporarily.

Seeking promotions

As shoppers try to stretch their dollars, consumers will be more responsive and actively look for promotional activity.

Pack size shifts

Shoppers frequently shift to larger pack sizes on lower cost commodities to get a better value per pound. With higher priced items, smaller pack sizes may allow them to buy the items they want with a management price point. 

Convenience still matters

Whether it is packaged items or cut produce, convenience is a trend that is likely to stay but slow down. Smaller weighted offerings may be preferred. 

Better value mindset

A shift back into bulk can be expected on some commodities. This is often the case for higher register ring items such as watermelons.

  • Increased store traffic, paired with amplified price sensitivity, will force retailers into assortment reviews with a focus on satisfying consumer needs while optimizing portfolio.

  • Retailers can utilize in-store merchandising, loyalty programs, and eCommerce messaging to build these smaller baskets with produce. 


Retailers turning back to promotions to entice price conscious consumers

  • More volume is being driven by promotional discounts, but average promotional prices have increased.

  • Consumers are seeking and responding to promotions, but the proper pricing strategy (depth and frequency) will look different from 2021.

A price to pay1

Through thirty-two weeks, produce price per pound has increased by 9.4%, with trends regressing the last 4 weeks coming in at +10.6%. Seasonal demand is keeping shoppers engaged. Retailers can get the most from their promotional investments by creating large, themed displays focused on summer holidays and grilling season.

Top produce trends of 2022 so far (Vanguard International)5

  • Supply chain pain


Delays in transit times doubled. Ocean carriers opted out of ports, increasing logistics costs and complexity with growers having to resort to costly increased freight rates. Shortages persisted for equipment, chassis, and drivers. 

  • Inflation hits the grocery store


Inflated fresh fruit and vegetable prices are driving some consumers to buy frozen or canned options.

  • A focus on health continues even with rising cost pressures

Superfoods like avocados, berries, pomegranates, mangos, sweet potatoes, and papayas are sought after. 

  • Super empowered consumer


Consumers want and expect more engagement. Functional foods, freshness, and authenticity of local foods appeal, but freshness always wins.

  • Foodservice NOT quite roaring back


Restaurants have reopened, but they are faced with high prices on product offering and a tight labor market.

  • Increasing Ag input costs driving higher price/congestion in global supply chains


Labor, packaging materials, ag inputs such as fertilizers, fuel, seeds, rootstocks and transportation are all seeing increases of 30 to 40% that growers and customers alike struggle to absorb.

Dial-A-Truck reefer load to truck ratio3

Currently, the ratio metrics are still significantly lower than where the market began this year and they continue to be below last year’s ratios. In July, the rates were in line with the 2020 actuals. 

Fuel rates were $4.99 per gallon in July, which is slightly lower than June, but still 64% higher than July 2021.3

Labor Day weekend shopping with be food focused.7

Our partners at Numerator released a consumer survey which showcases consumer celebration plans and insights into Labor Day weekend sales events. 


Produce has a significant presence in Labor Day celebrations

  • Labor Day marks the unofficial end to summer, making this holiday the last chance for consumers to soak in summer celebrations.

  • Items associated with picnics and barbeques are featured on ad for Labor Day – tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, corn, and watermelon.

  • Multi-buy savings are highlighted for the holiday, especially on items like corn, avocados, and cantaloupe.

  • Stone fruit are not only top seasonal items but also top promoted items across the department as they enter peak selling season.9


Contact your account manager for local activation. 


1. IRI Integrated Fresh, Total US, MULO, Building Calendar Year 2022 Ending 08.7.22.

2. IRI Integrated Fresh Panel, Total US, All Outlets, Last 26 Weeks Ending 08.7.22.

3. DAT Trucking Industry Trends: Reefer, Data Trendlines 2022.

4. IRI Integrated Fresh Panel, Total US, All Outlets Internet.

5. Vanguard International shares seven produce trends of 2022 so far. August 2022.

7. Numerator Promotions Intel, Labor Day Consumer Survey, n=1,054.

8. IRI Integrated Fresh, Total US, MULO, Labor Day week 2019-2021.

9. Numerator Promotions Intel, Total US, Labor Day week 2019-2022.