( The Packer )

Consumers who want a strong immune system are looking to fresh produce.

That’s a silver lining to the current business disruption caused by the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

Check out Ashley Nickle’s story, "40% of shoppers report changing produce purchases due to coronavirus," coverage of new consumer research looking to measure changes in shopping behavior because of the new coronavirus or COVID-19.

One part of the survey, commissioned by The Packer, asks consumers this question: 

How are your fresh produce purchases changing due to the spread of the coronavirus?

From Ashley’s report: 

"Nearly 20% of people said they are buying less fresh produce now and more frozen fruits and vegetables, and about 12% said they are buying less fresh produce and more canned.

Roughly 14% said they are buying more fresh produce to try and be healthier in case they are exposed to the coronavirus. About 12% are buying more packaged fresh produce and less bulk to ensure that other shoppers hadn’t been touching the product while it was on display — although health officials have said there is no known transmission via food products.

Among consumers who said they are changing their fresh produce purchasing, 50% said they are concerned about people touching the produce on display. Thirty percent of the group said they are concerned about relying on fresh instead of stocking up with frozen because of the uncertainty generated by the coronavirus spread."




While it distressing to see consumers buy less fresh and more frozen and canned, let’s focus on the silver lining. The survey showed about 14% of consumers said they were buying more fresh produce to boost their health/immune system.

This corresponds with recent Google Trend search results for “fruits” in the last seven days

Here are some of the fastest “rising” search terms for fruit, according to Google Trends:
Explanation from Google: “Rising – Queries with the biggest increase in search frequency since the last time period. 

Fastest rising related search results:

  • how to disinfect fresh fruits and vegetables    350%
  • what fruits can you freeze    180%
  • fruits that help immune system    160%
  • fruits that boost immune system    130%
  • fruits high in vitamin c    130%
  • fruits for immune system    120%
  • immune system booster    110%
  • fruits that boost your immune system    100%
  • washing fruits and vegetables    90%
  • fruits with vitamin c    90%
  • fruits with seeds or pits    70%
  • fruits good for immune system    60%
  • how to wash fruits and vegetables    60%

Under the Google Trends search terms related to “vegetables,” some of the fastest rising terms reference shelf life, sanitizing/washing vegetables and freezing vegetables.

Fastest rising related search results:

  • how to disinfect fresh fruits and vegetables    300%
  • longest lasting vegetables    200%
  • how to sanitize vegetables    190%
  • vegetables with long shelf life    190%
  • which vegetables last the longest    180%
  • can you freeze eggs    170%
  • what vegetables freeze well    160%
  • vegetables you can freeze    150%
  • what vegetables last the longest    140%
  • how to clean vegetables    140%
  • washing vegetables    140%
  • can you freeze fresh vegetables    140%
  • how to disinfect vegetables    130%
  • coronavirus vegetables    130%
  • how to freeze vegetables    130%
  • how to wash vegetables    120%
  • how to clean fruit and vegetables    110%
  • can I freeze fresh vegetables    110%
  • what vegetables can you freeze    100%
  • freezing fresh vegetables    100%
  • how to freeze fresh vegetables    100%
  • freezing vegetables    90%
  • how to disinfect fruit and vegetables    80%
  • freeze vegetables    80%
  • long lasting vegetables    80%

Finally, Google Trends shows that consumers are concerned that supermarkets will close because of the coronavirus.

Fastest rising related search results:

  • supermarkets closing down    4000%
  • will supermarkets run out of food    1800%
  • will supermarkets close because of coronavirus  1600%
  • closing supermarkets    1350%
  • supermarkets closing coronavirus    1250%
  • what to buy for flu pandemic    1200%
  • are supermarkets open in Italy    850%
  • are supermarkets open today    700%
  • will supermarkets close    600%
  • coronavirus supermarkets    200%

In this very fluid outbreak scenario, consumers are hunkering down at home and shopping less. It is obvious that consumers are concerned about the cleanliness, shelf-life, and availability of fresh produce. Most importantly, consumers want fruit/produce “that boosts the immune system.”

The Produce for Better Health Foundation and others have been tweeting messages that dovetail with the theme of health-giving produce, and retailers/marketers need to shout that message loud and clear in their stores.

For more coronavirus coverage, check out our landing page on the topic here.