Consumers have shown rising interest in fresh foods lately. For many, purchasing these foods and preparing them at home is all about eating healthier and saving money. Supermarkets have long had a lock on the fresh food market, but consumers are beginning to find these foods in other channels, a trend which may signal to grocers that it’s time to change up their marketing strategies.

According to Nielsen research, consumers purchase their fresh foods through the following channels:

  • Grocery stores 65%
  • Club stores 9%
  • Mass/supercenters 13%
  • Other store formats 13%

In the past year, both the mass merchandising channel and the club channel have gained fresh food market share, while grocers have seen some market erosion. At the same time, grocers are also seeing some erosion in the center store aisle sales.

Nielsen analysts suggest the following strategies as a way to boost both perimeter (fresh foods) and center aisle sales:

Education: Marketing campaigns can inform consumers about where food is coming from and how it is grown. Once the consumer has this information, the decision-making process in the store is easier.

Promote more food offerings: While fresh foods used to mean attractive assortments of fruits and vegetables, these days it is likely to mean freshly prepared meal components. Consumers want easy-to-make or  ready-to-eat options. Supermarkets can promote ready-to-eat meal deals with cross-promotions and loyalty programs to win back market share.

The top sellers in prepared foods category for grocers are:

  • Prepared chicken: 25%
  • Salads: 18%
  • Entrees/Sandwiches: 11% (tie)

Grocers who promote freshness, quality and variety are likely to attract consumers. Those who deliver on their promise can keep consumers coming back with the right loyalty programs.

[Source: Jimenez, Shannon. U.S. Fresh Food Revolution. Nielsenwire. 19 Sep. 2011. Web. 4 Oct. 2011]