Have yourself a merry fresh Christmas - The Packer

Have yourself a merry fresh Christmas

12/02/2013 11:06:00 AM
Fred Wilkinson

Fred WIlkinson, Managing EditorFred WIlkinson, Managing Editor'Tis the season to sell celery, fa-la-la-la-la-la-la.

Carolers aren’t likely to be singing that line door to door (even on the terminal market), but a new marketing study suggests the holiday season provides a sales boost to fresh foods.

It should probably go without saying that Thanksgiving — a holiday focused on eating a big meal — is good for food sales.

And while the gift of produce may not be the Christmas staple it once was (a great-aunt of mine had a big box of Texas grapefruit sent to our home every Christmas when I was a kid), it remains heavily focused on food and feasting.

Pamela Riemenschneider Making a list

A recent Progressive Grocer article says Thanksgiving week takes the crown for highest fresh food sales of the year.

Christmas week clocks in at second place.

The article, based on findings from Nielsen Perishables Group’s FreshFacts Shopper Insights Powered by Spire, says fresh foods make up 32% of all food sales during Christmas week, compared to an annual average of 30%.

Not a huge leap but still a nice little fresh-sales stocking stuffer to finish out the year.

So how does fresh produce fare? Pretty respectably.

Out of the leading 10 Christmas week sale items the Nielsen Perishables’ research identifies, half come from the fruit and vegetable aisles:


  • bananas;
  • potatoes;
  • onions;
  • tomatoes; and
  • packaged salads.


The research suggests 82% of U.S. households purchase these items during that week.

Of course these items are year-round favorites whose appeal transcends the holiday season.

The Packer’s Fresh Trends 2013 consumer survey finds bananas topping the list of most-purchased fruit, a distinction tomatoes hold on the vegetable side.

Fresh Trends finds onions and potatoes in the next two spots.

Maybe it’s not all holiday sales magic so much as consistent year-round demand, but the Nielsen Perishables report does find shoppers slightly more likely (1.2 times) to purchase fresh potatoes for the winter holidays.

Other produce items enjoying increased Christmas week likelihood of purchase are citrus (1.3 times the purchase likelihood) and celery (1.4 times).

Christmas packaging

Christmas week sales leaders elsewhere in the grocery store present cross-promotional opportunities.

Consumers are 1.7 times as likely to buy cream cheese at that time, great for mixing with blue cheese and stuffing celery sticks for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner vegetable plate.

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