Local Fruits and Vegetables More Resistant to Inflation

In a recent study Numerator conducted for the OPMA, consumers were seen to be cutting back on spending due to inflationary pressures. About half of shoppers said they expected to cut back on restaurants, bars and food delivery over the next three months, and about 20% said that they would cut back on fresh meat and produce.

Overall, price is a key driver in the decision to purchase produce (34%). However, consumers are not willing to sacrifice quality and freshness, with 26% indicating this is a primary factor, followed by health benefits at 22%.

Local fruits and vegetables continue to be top of mind for Ontario consumers and appear to be more resistant to inflation. 47% of those surveyed indicated that they purchase local “frequently” or “often” and 42% said, “occasionally.” Even with the looming threat of further inflationary pressures, 49% of consumers said that their local produce purchase intentions would remain “about the same.”

“It is great to see the support for local remain strong among Ontario shoppers, despite inflationary pressures,” said Stephen Reid, OPMA President. “We want to continue supporting consumers by providing them with the information they need to make the most of the local season.”

Almost 60% of consumers are concerned about the price increases specifically for fresh fruits and vegetables. This has resulted in 45% buying more produce when on sale and 42% shopping at more stores to get the best price. Out of the stores Ontarians turn to for their fresh fruit and vegetable needs, conventional and discount continue to dominate trip choices. Club has also grown in importance, benefiting from growth in both unit and trips, specifically when shopping for vegetables.

“We are excited to work with the OPMA and bring our cutting-edge technology to the produce industry, which has traditionally been under-served when it comes to shopper insights,” said Brian Ettkin, Head of Strategy & Solutions, Canada at Numerator.  “This study is particularly important as the industry navigates a very difficult macroeconomic environment.”

The organic category remains strong with 40% of Ontarians stating they purchase organic produce at least occasionally. However, it is the most vulnerable category, with 70% of consumers saying they will likely cut back on organics due to inflationary pressures. When asked about what would make consumers more likely to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables they purchase, strong loyalty programs and promotional offers at the retail level were noted as the top answers.

The OPMA partnered with Numerator, a data and tech company reinventing the market research industry with first-party, consumer-sourced data on this consumer trends report. The results were presented to an audience at the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Conference by Brian Ettkin, Head of Strategy & Solutions, Canada at Numerator. Data was gathered through a consumer panel made up of over 50,000 active panelists, updated daily.