November, 2022 – Insights to Action

Shoppers Continue to Pay More for Less

Through forty-four weeks of the year, inflationary pressures continue to have an adverse effect on produce demand. Produce dollars have grown 4.8% to $64B, while volume is down (4.1%). Quarter 4 to date, the volume losses have softened somewhat with (3.0%) vs prior year, but dollar sales have weakened to 3.7% growth as well.1

Bar graph of YTD Trends thru 44 weeks. 

The two largest regions in Produce dollar sales are on opposite sides of the performance rankings. The Southeast continues to outpace US at +7.0% vs. 2021, while the Northeast continues to struggle with only 2.5% growth.1

Map of the United States showing regional performance YTD thru 44 weeks. 

Berries continue to lead ranking with notable dollar growth rate of 6.0% and volume growth of 4.5%. At-home meal mainstays such as potatoes and onions are seeing significant growth.1

Inflation impact can be seen in the premium item salad kits, showing minimal dollar growth with significant volume losses of (6.8%).

Bar graph of top ten fruits and vegetables. 

Consumers adapting to inflationary prices… shopping differently

Bar graph of product trips edible. 

Multi-store/channel shopping has become the norm as consumers look for value and solutions

  • Increased store Shoppers remain engaged, making more trips than prior year and eating more at home since COVID.
  • Within Produce, Traditional Grocery continues to lose share of market as shopper retention proves challenging.
  • Price is important with inflationary pressures; but consumers are also looking for value and convenience.
  • With quick trips on the rise, grocery areas around the perimeter, such as deli and bakery, have benefited from the increased traffic and solution mindset.
  • Consumers are still spending when value is present and communicated effectively.
Table of dollar share produce and channel. 

Strategies to consider when trying to keep shoppers engaged and loyal

Woman at a grocery store putting a bag of oranges into her cart. 

Product and Placement

  • Align pack sizes with your shopper.
  • Manage assortment to accommodate these shifts in shopper behavior.
  • Expect “Ready-made” and “Easy” to be in demand with quick trips.
  • Optimize space based on new velocities and trends.
Close up of a person carrying a basket in a grocery store. 

Shopper Retention

  • Implement loyalty programs to keep shoppers in your store.
  • Cross merchandise to encourage basket building… meal solutions across aisles.
  • Develop in store merchandising and eCommerce messaging to build these smaller baskets.
  • “Hot Meal” solutions in Deli.
Close up of someone using a calculator and a small shopping cart sitting on the table next to them. 

Price and Promotion

  • Increase frequency of promotions, but with “new” base prices in mind.
  • Strategically pulse deeper promotions as traffic drivers.
  • Cross promote to encourage basket building.
  • Align messaging to value and solutions, not just price.
Woman pushing a cart in the grocery store while looking at her phone. 

As supply chain demands ease, buyer’s expectations change3

Insight provided by Josh Noonan, General Manager, Delivered Sales

The refrigerated Load-to-Truck ratio has now reached alignment with a 6-year historical low. Historically, a softness in the freight market has increased the buyers’ demand for higher service levels. Last year, it was “just get me a truck…”; where now, the narrative has changed to “get me a truck… have it deliver on time… and in full”.

Route guide depth is now 1.19, with the top 2 awarded carriers accepting nearly all shipment tenders. Truckload fleet utilization is back at the 10-year average, declining since its near 100% utilization thru most of 2021 and early 2022.

CH Robinson is the industry leader in freight pricing and market data by leveraging our largest North American capacity network

Table showing price per volume and percent change over 2021 and 2020.