May 2023 - Insights to Action

Produce volume continued to stabilize as dollar sales weakened

  • Through the first sixteen weeks of the year, the gap between produce dollars sales and volume growth continued to narrow
  • Volume grew slightly over the last four weeks for the first time since Feb 2021

Percentage changes in 2022 vs 2021. Bar graph of 2023 YTD percentage breakdown of produce by dollars and pounds. 

Regional Performance YTD (16 weeks)1

  • The Southeast and Midsouth continued to lead the country, as California remained at the bottom of the ranking
  • The Northeast is seeing improved performance and has moved up in the ranking as the year progresses

Map of the United States and a table breaking down region and percent change and volume change in 2022. 

Top 10 Fruit and Vegetables $ (millions)1

  • YTD, Berries maintained share leadership, but grapes are the top performing fruit thus far with +2.3% in dollars & +5.3% in volume
  • Potatoes are doing well from a dollar sales perspective, but volume is down
  • Lettuce and onions are the only vegetables growing in both dollars and volume

Bar graph of top ten fruit and vegetables by dollar. 

Since the beginning of the year, retail traffic has regressed slightly (YTD 16 weeks)2

  • After nearly two years of elevated inflation, retail has started to lose some traffic. As the price gap closes, consumers are willing to pay a little more for the convenience of eating away from home.
  • Keeping shoppers engaged by offering more promotions and meal solutions should be a priority
  • Cross purchase activity to build baskets and deli inclusion should do well

Percentage breakdown by retailer trips, dollars per trip, dollars per buyer, and buyers. 

YTD, dollars continue to shift away from traditional grocery2

Although still the largest channel of Produce, Traditional Grocery continues to lose share of market to more “price focused” retailers such as Discount Grocery and Walmart.

Bar graph and table showing channel breakdown and dollars share of produce. 

Trend to watch: Restaurant recovery accelerating

  • In Q1, Foodservice recovery pace picked up, especially in restaurants
  • As retail traffic weakened, U.S. Restaurant traffic started to return to more typical patterns
  • When the price gap from eating at home to eating out closes, consumers will often choose the convenience of foodservice
  • However, restaurant prices are now rising faster than grocery prices for the first time since inflation became a major issue. Expect the trends like “trading down” from full-service to quick-serve to continue.

Close up of a chef spooning vegetables onto the plated meal. 

A Price to Pay1

  • Inflation continues to ease with total produce trending at 2.3% thru 16 weeks
  • Fruits came in below PY at (0.7%), while vegetables came in higher at 5.3%. The last 4 weeks showed prices regressing in produce at (0.1%)

Table showing price per volume, percentage change in 2022 and 2021. 

Promotions coming to the forefront

  • From 2019 to 2020, promotions were reduced drastically due to the increased demand from COVID
  • Since Q1 2022, the percent sold on promotion started to increase gradually
  • Currently, with the shift into to value retailers, promotions have accelerated in traditional food stores in efforts to drive the traffic and volume needed to lap the prior year
  • The last 4 weeks showed an increase of over 7 Pts of volume sold on promotion vs PY

Bar graph of percent of volume sold on promotion. 

Trend to watch: ecommerce growth slowing2

Momentum in this channel has slowed after capturing 2.7% of share of produce sales over the past 3 years.

Bar graph of dollar sales percent change vs PY and bar graph of top ten reporting YTD dollar sales. 

A spotlight on sustainability

We at Robinson Fresh are committed to advancing sustainable solutions that protect the resiliency of our farmers and communities, nurtures the land, and brings fresh product to market.

According to our recent survey:4

  • 92% of consumers say sustainability is important to them in some way, with 35% saying it’s extremely or very important
  • 88% of consumers believe they can impact sustainability with their purchases
  • 72% of consumers believe the retailer has a responsibility to supply sustainable items

Small paragraphs on sustainable products, sustainable packaging, and sustainable path to purchase. 

Our partners in progress5

Small paragraphs on Apeel, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and Fair Trade Certified products. 

  1. IRI Integrated Fresh, Total US, MULO, Calendar Year 2023 Ending 4.23.23
  2. IRI Panel Data, Total US- all outlets, (Calendar Year 2023 Ending 4.23.23
  3. CNBC; Restaurant prices rise faster than grocery prices in March (
  4. Robinson Fresh Consumer Sustainability Survey, April 2023 (2038 Respondents)
  5. Robinson Fresh Sustainability