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NEWARK, Del. - More than half of consumers (54 percent) choose supermarkets as their most likely point of purchase for fresh fruits and vegetables during peak growing seasons in their regions, according to results of a recent national survey of 900 U.S. consumers commissioned by PMA and conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation in late July.
Thirty-seven percent of consumers said they prefer to buy their produce from local farm stands or small fruit and vegetable stores during peak seasons; 76 percent of this group also believe the produce sold at these outlets to be fresher than that sold at supermarkets. Interestingly, 58 percent of consumers said they are most likely to purchase fresh produce from supermarkets because of the convenience factor, while 22 percent said they purchase produce from local farm stands or small stores for this reason.
The survey had a 95 percent confidence level with a margin of error of +/-3 percent.
"This survey shows that opportunities exist, particularly during peak growing seasons, for retailers and their suppliers to more effectively market the freshness of the products they sell. Consumers have distinct perceptions of what they believe to be fresh, and delivering consistent quality and taste will only help to increase consumption and retail sales. We will be addressing this and other consumer trends during a special 'state of the industry' session at the Fresh Summit in Anaheim this October," PMA president Bryan Silbermann said in a statement.
The PMA research also discovered that the taste and consistent quality of fresh fruits and vegetables play a key role in determining where consumers shop. While a majority of respondents (53 percent) said they have not ever switched supermarkets for better tasting and more consistent quality of produce, a surprising 45 percent said they have made that switch.
Fifty percent of women and 39 percent of men said they have changed from one supermarket to another based solely on the consistency and quality of fresh produce. On average, half of consumers aged 30 to 64 have switched stores for better fruits and vegetables. Those less likely to switch are consumers under 30 and those aged 65 and older.