Photo courtesy of Marks & Spencer

As inflation wanes, what factors can drive consumers to purchase more fresh produce?

Produce Business report

Inflation made another surprising but welcoming dip last month to 7.9% in the UK and was an additional point lower across the food sector at 6.9%.

Though still not a reason to jump for joy, as summer carries on, at least one retailer says it is seeing very positive signs from its Family Matters Index.

M&S reports that consumer optimism has risen 13% over the past eight months and that nearly a third of all families feel better about their finances than last autumn when inflation was peaking above 10%.

“Despite the cost of living being front of mind for four in five people, the prospect of warmer weather, exciting events and holidays are helping to drive a more positive outlook,” M&S noted in a release from its report.

The M&S Family Index has surveyed 10,000 British consumers on their resilience, financial security, health and optimism since March 2021. The overall score, based on 100, has improved to 53 or about two points better than the previous study done this spring. Millennials and Gen X, however, remain the lowest among the generations to express confidence. The 65-and-over group remains the most confident.

While most locations in the UK have steadily increased in “positivity” during the past four months, none has outpaced Wales, which has risen 8 points.

Despite the marked improvement in inflation, cost of living remains a deep concern for more than 80% of those surveyed. The majority of customers (62%) express that they are still seeking value from their shops. M&S reports that its Remarksable items account for 20% of all purchases made in store.

Trends in healthy eating

For produce industry leaders, the biggest takeaway from the report – which was heavy on increased summer sales from clothing and the like – is that nearly half of respondents worry that they may be not be getting the nutrients and exercise they need.

“This is the case even more so among younger generation,” the Family Matters report highlights. “As ever, though, it is an area in which many are determined to improve, with 30% of families ranking either doing more exercise or eating more healthily as their top priority for the coming months.”

More than 45% say they will be eating more healthy this summer, which should be a big opportunity for retailers to promote and highlight fresh fruits and vegetables. So, keep displays fresh and inviting and offer variety.

Consumers also say they are eating out less and eating in more. Retailers should help shoppers with recipe cards and nutrition information in produce areas.

Lastly, more than 60% of customers are thinking about value first. No more than 10% listed any other reason for where and how they shop, including convenience, customer service, online presence, environmental policies).

So how can retailer help customers eat more healthy? More than 50% of respondents from the survey listed “healthy food items being cheaper” as the No. 1 factor.



The Latest from PBUK

Subscribe to PBUK!

Get regular produce industry insights, sign up for our email newsletter below.