The shifting sands of consumer buying habits make it difficult for retailers to maintain solid footing in the produce aisle, but statistics from The Packer’s Fresh Trends 2013 can help managers stabilize the foundations of their departments and strategically increase sales.

Paul Kneeland, vice president of produce and floral for Kings Food Markets, suggested retailers use data from the annual report to help them identify potential holes in their programs. He discussed Fresh Trends 2013 during an April 11 webcast with The Packer’s editor Greg Johnson and Produce Retailer magazine editor Pamela Riemenschneider.

The power of attractive displays and in-store sampling opportunities were two factors that Fresh Trends 2013 statistics showed as effective, based on responses from more than 1,000 respondents.

Retailers can increase sales by using statisticsKneeland said he has seen proof in the Kings stores that supports the survey result that shows 54% of respondents were “strongly motivated” to buy produce if it was part of an attractive display.

Sampling of new items is another tool Kneeland has seen boost sales for new items. The Fresh Trends 2013 data showed 49% of respondents said they “could be enticed to try a new item” after sampling it.

“It’s important to get the produce staff to sample the new items, too,” Kneeland said. “They are the ones who are out there on the floor and talking to customers.”

Kneeland said there is generally a bump in sales after a sampling event, but then retailers need to act again if they want to maintain those sales.

“The key to keep it going is to come back with another sampling event about two weeks later,” Kneeland said.

Kneeland said other data from Fresh Trends 2013 that he has seen hold true in Kings stores include the growing popularity of locally grown and organic produce. Statistics in the report about specific commodities are also helpful in produce aisle planning, Kneeland said.

The webcast will be available soon at: http://tinyurl.com/FreshTrends2013.