Fruit and vegetable consumption in Canada may be static, but a survey conducted by the Canadian Produce Marketing Association shows new opportunities as cultures and demographics evolve.
“Fifteen years ago, you would have said we eat meat and potatoes,” said CPMA president Ron Lemaire. “Today, with the changes in eating habits and behaviors, we’re trying mangoes, kiwi, kale and more.”
According to the 2013 Fresh Produce Purchase Benchmark Study, conducted online among 1,999 shoppers and 52 grocers across Canada last spring, three in four consumers say they regularly buy a fruit or vegetable that they weren’t buying five years ago.
The survey also found a huge interest in food among 15- to 35-year-olds, who are greatly influenced by social media, TV and their peers.
At the other end of the spectrum, seniors share the same interest in trying new products and finding the right serving size.
“Seniors have disposal income and they’re willing to spend money to make their lives longer. healthier and more fulfilling,” Lemaire said.
“Produce plays right into that.”
While older people are looking for smaller serving sizes, he said young people are looking for the “right” size so they don’t waste food.
Canada’s changing cultural mosaic is also reflected in the survey results.
According to Statistics Canada, immigrants from the Philippines, India and China are expected to add another one million Canadians every decade.
Lemaire said their desire for familiar foods is already creating a demand for new fruits and vegetables.
“There are going to be winners and losers unless we do our job right,” he said. “If you’re coming from a country that doesn’t consume potatoes, you won’t look for potatoes.”
He said the produce industry needs to educate itself on the range of specialty products available domestically and abroad, and make them available to satisfy this growing demand.
“Part of CPMA’s mandate is to make sure our members have the information they need to build their business,” Lemaire said. “That’s where all of this falls into.”
According to the 2013 Fresh Produce Purchase Benchmark Study. Canadian grocers devote 19% of their floor space to fresh produce, which accounts for an average 21% of all grocery revenue.
Most Canadians shop at least once a week for fresh produce, yet the average Canadian woman eats only 4.3 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and men eat 3.5 servings a day.