Study Shows Fresh Produce Is A Bargain

Fresh produce is not only good for you, but it’s a bargain too, according to new research from Produce Marketing Association. Specifically, it costs U.S. shoppers on average only $2.18 to get the recommended nine daily servings of fruits and vegetables – 28 cents for a serving of fruit and 21 cents for a serving of vegetables. The value-conscious consumer can get that nine-serving cost down to 88 cents – positioning fresh produce as the affordable, natural “value meal.”

The PMA-commissioned study by The Perishables Group provides the produce industry with the facts and figures needed to correct consumer misperceptions about produce prices. Findings published in The Cost of the Recommended Daily Servings of Fresh Produce confirm fresh produce is a good buy year-round, while also packing a nutritional punch.

“We’re thrilled that our industry can help shoppers understand that eating healthfully can be cost-effective, even on a budget, thus driving demand for fresh produce,” said PMA President & CEO Bryan Silbermann. “This study confirms that fresh produce is a good buy year-round and debunks high-profile claims that fresh produce is expensive.”

This first national study of its kind reviewed retail sales data to calculate average consumer costs across the country and throughout the year to achieve the nine servings per day recommended for an average adult. Researchers determined that consumers buying produce at everyday prices spent a national average of $2.18 per day to purchase five servings of vegetables (2.5 cups) and four servings of fruit (2 cups). Savvy shoppers can do even better: Budget-minded consumers shopping sales and promotions can save nearly 60% (spending only 88 cents for nine servings).

Researchers analyzed point-of-sale sales data for all fresh fruits and vegetables at the store level, by week and by item during third and fourth quarters of 2009 and the first and second quarters of 2010. The study’s findings report on average prices for the total U.S, and east, central, south, and west regions. Actual prices could be even lower, researchers report, depending upon where consumers are shopping. These prices were fairly consistent across seasons and regions.

The study found that many of the most common fruits and vegetables are good buys; six of the top 10 most common fruits appeared in “value shopper” baskets, and nine of the top 10 most common vegetables. Nationally, the least expensive fruit servings were watermelon, bananas, apples, pears and peaches, averaging less than 28 cents per serving. Cabbage, potatoes, eggplant, lettuce/salad, prepared cooking greens, cauliflower, summer squash, and carrots rung up less than the average 21 cents per serving for vegetables.

“This research is a boon for our industry on many levels, giving us a platform to talk to consumers and policy makers about the value of healthful fresh produce,” said Kathy Means, PMA vice president of government relations and public affairs. “We’ll certainly be using this research in PMA’s work with legislators, regulators, administrators and public health influencers. In fact, USDA recently released research that mirrors PMA’s own. However it covers all forms of fruits and vegetables, not just fresh produce.”

The PMA report’s detailed information gives produce suppliers and retailers a bounty of new fact-based outreach and promotional opportunities to help consumers shop and prepare meals affordably and healthfullywith fresh fruits and vegetables – for example on websites, in social media forums, on packaging, in point-of-sale materials, in store and on ad.

The full report is available free to members on PMA’s website (www.pma.com). To learn more about becoming a PMA member visit the Membership Center. To stay current with PMA’s government relations and public affairs endeavors, visit the Field to Fork blogwhere anyone can join the conversation about important issues like this.

Source: Produce Marketing Association

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