You don’t often find coupons for produce. So a shopping cart filled with fresh fruits and veggies will probably end up costing you more than one without.

In more ways than one.

A new study finds that an appealing display and selection of produce can entice us to buy more throughout the grocery store.

“Shoppers spend significantly more money when produce is included in the transaction,” reads the Food Marketing Institute’s “Power of Produce 2017” report. Among shoppers surveyed for the report, the average cost of a typical shopping basket was $36. If they bought produce, the average cost shot up to $52.

And that’s not just because the produce itself was expensive. It seems shoppers who frequent stores with a good produce selection, buy more of the rest of their groceries there, too.

But they’re not always willing to pay full price. Even fans of fresh produce like looking for deals.


The report actually breaks down which particular produce items are most likely to be sold on sale – or, in other words, which are least likely to be sold at full price. Peaches top the list, followed by corn, sweet potatoes, gourds and nectarines.

Nearly half of shoppers surveyed said they regularly check the sales circulars for promotions on produce, and a third decide where to shop after comparing sale prices across two or more different stores. But fewer shoppers are using the paper circular. Two years ago, the printed ad was the main source of information for 73% of shoppers. Now, it’s down to 56%, as more shoppers are going digital, or just showing up in the store and seeing what the specials are.

But what if your favorite grocery store has everything you need – except a good produce section? That contributes to the rise of “split shoppers” – one out of five shoppers surveyed said they typically leave their main grocery store to buy their fresh produce somewhere else.

One place they’re not heading to buy the produce, however, is online. Only 7% said fruits and vegetables are a good fit for buying online. But being local helps – neighborhood grocers “have an important perception advantage over pure online retailers,” the report found. If you order produce online from the “trusted produce department” of your local grocery store, as opposed to someplace like Amazon, you’ll have a better idea of what you’re going to get.

Ultimately, low prices are nice, but it’s the quality of the produce that really matters. “Price helps secure trips,” the report reads, “but appearance drives the ultimate purchase decision.” 48% of shoppers rank appearance as the top factor when selecting and purchasing fresh produce, followed by price at 24%.

“The top two factors of appearance and price represent the exact definition of value: a good-looking product at a good price,” the report concludes.

And whether you’re a couponer, a deal-seeker, a frequent produce purchaser, or not – getting good food at a good price is something all grocery shoppers can agree on.

Photo by Anthony Albright

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