Progressive Grocer

MAR 2017

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Fresh Food Produce "L ocal" and "organic" remain powerful selling points that drive double-digit sales in the produce department. In the past five years, dollar sales of organic fruit have increased by 123 percent, while organic vegetables have grown by 92 percent, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA). "Organic fruits and vegetables remain the biggest of all organic categories, with sales of $14.4 billion in 2015 [including frozen and canned], up almost 11 percent," says Maggie McNeil, director of media re- lations for Washington, D.C.-based OTA, with fresh produce alone accounting for $13 billion. "Almost 13 percent of the produce sold in this country is now organic. We don't see this trend slowing down." While opportunities for continued growth abound, at the same time, consumer research shows that some shoppers are confused about the benefits of natural and organic products. What's more, they're hungry for knowledge about how and where their food is grown. "Consumers are looking to farmers' markets and local, specialized retailers as destinations for learning about natural and organic products, and as a way to connect with local producers," notes Bel- levue, Wash.-based e Hartman Group in its "Organic & Natural" 2016 report. "ose are two areas that food retailers might consider focusing Enlightened Eating Grocers give shoppers food for thought with lessons in organic and local produce. By Jennifer Strailey People are taking charge of their health, and taking charge of their diet is an important part of that." —Karen Falbo, Natural Grocers on as a way to make themselves more unique when it comes to organic and natural products." Two rapidly expanding grocery chains in the United States are doing just that — delivering as desti- nations for organic and local produce while at the same time offering in-store and online nutrition education that helps shoppers eat and live more healthfully. e fast-growing Lakewood, Colo.-based Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, which oper- ates more than 135 stores in 19 states, employs a health coach at every store. In addition to provid- ing ongoing nutrition classes on topics ranging from eating more organic fruits and vegetables to healthy proteins to alternatives to sugary bever- ages, the coaches lead a variety of classes at local schools and businesses in their communities. On a mission to establish itself as "America's Health Education Expert," Natural Grocers recently redesigned its Good4u Health Hotline monthly circular. Available in print and online March 2017 | | 73

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