Good news. Bad news. The produce industry has enjoyed considerable growth due to consumers’ interest in “healthy” foods, a label that fits fruits and vegetables like a peel.
And consumers seem to believe that if produce is good, organically grown produce is even better. Sales of organic produce jumped 24% in 2006. Recent attention on the economy, though, has some shoppers reconsidering whether organic’s higher price is worth it.
But the market continues to be plagued by contamination scares. The most recent: A salmonella outbreak tracked to certain tomatoes (red plums, red Romas and round reds), the origin of which had not been pinpointed as of press time. And growers and packers were still reeling from the E.coli-tainted spinach incident in 2006.
The category continues to do well, though, when it combines its natural healthiness with convenience. The latest marketing wonder: Frozen vegetables in microwavable steamer bags. Created by Birds Eye during its transition to a branded-products-only company, this value-added package has a solid position in the freezer case. Even private-label products now tout this convenient cooking feature.