(Oct. 17) HOUSTON — As consumers continue to place a premium on convenience, fresh-cut marketers can increase their market share.

The Perishables Group, West Dundee, Ill., shared its latest findings on fresh-cut produce at workshops Oct. 12-13, “Ripe for the Picking,” at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2007.

Among the findings were:

  • 68% of consumer shopping trips fall into the “small trip” category;

  • consumers say the No.1 reason they buy fresh-cut produce is for convenience;

  • the typical fresh-cut buyer is affluent, suburban and white;

  • price is the No.1 reason consumers cite for not buying fresh-cut; and

  • consumers say they like to see increased variety in type and sizes of fresh-cut offerings.

Steve Lutz, executive vice president of the Perishables Group, said the data is from a study funded by Crunch Pak, Cashmere, Wash.; Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc., Coral Gables, Fla.; Mann Packing Co. Inc., Salinas, Calif.; and Ready Pac Produce Inc., Irwindale, Calif.

In a panel discussion, representatives from the four companies and a retailer talked about what the data means to their business strategies.

With price being the main reason that keeps many consumers out of the category, Paul Kneeland, vice president of produce and floral for Kings Super Markets Inc., Parsippany, N.J., said price should be a retailer’s top focus on fresh-cut, finding that level that provides both value to the consumer and profit to the retailer.

Ali Leon, director of fruit, vegetables and corporate communications for Ready Pac, agreed that more effective pricing would bring more consumers into the category, which posts about 20% penetration.

Kneeland added that better pricing also reduces shrink.