For the first time in its 31-year history, the Fresh Trends consumer survey included an ethnicity factor, providing crucial demographic data that can help retailers tailor assortments in individual stores and wholesalers better target their sales efforts by region.

Another first for the 2014 Fresh Trends report is that men topped the 50% mark, coming in at 51% of total respondents, said Greg Johnson, editor of The Packer, which sponsors the annual consumer research. That is challenging news for the industry because men buy 5% to 10% less fresh produce than women, according to the survey.

Johnson discussed the 2014 report during a webcast with Pamela Riemenschneider, editor of Produce Retailer magazine, and Patrick Mills, produce director for Lucky’s Market, a small retail chain based in Boulder, Colo. More than 200 participated in the webcast, which is available for free at The Fresh Trends 2014 report was distributed free last month to subscribers of The Packer.

The survey of more than 1,000 targeted consumers aged 21 and older was balanced to match the U.S. population in terms of gender, age, household income and ethnicity. Respondents were the Fresh Trends survey reveals opportunities for targeted salesprimary grocery buyer for their households, or have at least an equal share in the shopping responsibilities. Across the board households with incomes of more than $100,000 bought more fresh fruits and vegetables.

One surprise in the 2014 Fresh Trends, Riemenschneider said, was the entrance of mangoes into the Top 20 fruits. On the flip side, grapefruit lost its Top 20 standing, possibly because of contraindications for people on certain blood pressure medications, Riemenschneider said.

Another first for the 2014 data is a jump in popularity for red seedless grapes. For the first time they scored higher with consumers than green seedless.

Johnson said the inclusion of an ethnicity factor in the survey showed significant differences in buying patterns for certain commodities. The reasons behind the buying patterns for some groups provide insight that can translate into in-store efforts to increase sales with targeted information and in-store sampling.

Fresh Trends survey reveals opportunities for targeted salesAsians are most likely to buy fresh produce as a way to improve their health while Caucasians are least likely to base their fruit and vegetable purchases on health benefits. The survey also showed African Americans are more likely than other ethnic groups to sacrifice quality for price.

There was little difference among ethnic groups when apples were the commodity in question, with only five percentage points difference. Caucasians came in on the low end with 81% likely to buy apples, followed by African Americans at 82%, Asians at 85% and Hispanics and “other” ethnicities being 86% likely to buy apples.

Salad mixes had the widest range, based on ethnicity, with Asians 35% likelihood of buying them more than 30 percentage points below the “other” category, which came in at 68%. Caucasians were 57% likely to buy salad mixes and African Americans tied with Hispanics, both coming in at 44%.