Trends in Produce


Photo-LSL Produce

Canadians are eating less than half the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. The lack of preparation time is cited as a common reason. Add to that a lack of culinary skills among millennials and you have an opportunity for retailers.

Cooking fresh produce can be intimidating. Consumers want fast and easy solutions to put a nutritious meal on the table. Retailers can be the catalyst by providing simple prep instructions, accessible in-store through POS materials, knowledgeable staff or mobile devices and integrating them with their website, weekly flyers and apps. Recipes inspire experimentation and can drive purchases of other ingredients, made easier through cross merchandising.


Value-added produce entices shoppers to trade up. No-prep meal kits deliver healthier lunch options and easy dinner solutions. Labour intensive produce like butternut squash is washed, peeled, cut and ready to cook. What can be easier?

Here’s a peek at what’s in-store:


  • Canada’s EarthFresh Foods developed creative ways to elevate the lowly potato. Their eye-catching foil bags (with “light blocking technology” to increase shelf life) market potatoes according to usage – from roasting to baking, mashing and boiling – helping shoppers select the best potato for the job. And cooking potatoes is fast and effortless with their innovative Celebratoes line; fresh, baby potatoes with a seasoning pack in a microwave/oven-ready tray.



  • Veg Pro International introduced Fresh Attitude Asian inspired stir-fry meal kits; a blend of vegetables with Cantonese noodles, sauce and toppings in a compartmentalized plastic bowl ready for the microwave. Just 2 – 4 minutes is all it takes to prepare four vegetable portions.

More bulk produce is being packaged and branded to “uncommoditize” it. Certain produce items sell better when packaged and can increase turns and reduce shrink. However, consistent quality is important to please discerning shoppers who prefer to “cherry-pick” their produce.

Retailers like Longo’s differentiate themselves with an extensive own brand offering that highlights their focus on fresh.

When making buying decisions, 50% of Canadians look for environmentally friendly food packaging that is reusable or resealable, keeps food fresher or makes the product easier to use.


Mini is big and makes produce more “snackable”. Cute Cumbers™ from Mucci Farms and kid-sized apples target moms looking for healthy snacks.


The produce department has virtually exploded with new varieties and ethnic produce, and there are more locally grown varieties to come. Vineland Research is adapting world crops, such as okra, bottle gourd and sweet potatoes, for Canadian growing conditions to meet increasing demand.


Beets continue to appear on restaurant menus. Messy and labour intensive, this vegetable is not for everyone. Retailers can give time-crunched shoppers an easier option by merchandising cooked, ready to eat vacuum-packed beets nearby.


GMO labelling continues to make news. Mastronardi Produce and Mucci Farms are using the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal to differentiate their products.

Retailers can be more than purveyors of produce, by educating and inspiring their customers to eat more fruits and vegetables. After all, it’s healthy for everyone.

As a packaged foods consultant specializing in strategy, brand and packaging development, Birgit Blain makes brands more saleable. Her experience includes 17 years with Loblaw Brands and President’s Choice®. Contact her at

© Birgit Blain

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