You’ve probably heard that consumers are moving towards ‘fresh’ food. Indeed, 2015 data from Nielsen revealed that U.S. fresh food sales increased 5 percent during the past four years, along with consumer buzz and interest in eating and living well.
But what does ‘fresh’ even mean? Fresh food, according to the University of Colorado-Boulder, suggests or implies that the food is unprocessed, meaning that the food is in its raw state and has not been frozen or subjected to any form of thermal processing or preservation. And from 2003 to 2013, consumption of fresh foods — fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs — grew by 20 percent to more than 100 billion eatings, according to global information company The NPD Group.
In the vending industry there has been an ever-growing shift to include fresh food options, especially in the micro market segments. Fresh food accounts for a significant amount of some operations’ revenues, making it more important than ever for micro market operators to create and execute a diverse fresh food program.
Millennials in the workforce
There is no denying that one major factor in the growth of fresh food is the Millennial generation. The NPD Group reports that Millennials are driving changes in U.S. eating behaviors with their approach to food choice and preparation. They like fresh, less processed food.
One of the biggest reasons this matters is that this group surpassed Generation Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, meaning that they heavily influence the types of foods being consumed in the workplace.
When determining which types of foods to offer in a micro market, operators should consider the buying power of the Millennial generation and focus food offerings that cater to this group. This means selling fresh food that is both flavorful and customizable, such as salads with fruit and nut toppings, vegetable cups with dipping sauce, hard-boiled eggs, etc.
Adding to the bottom line
Fresh food has brought a plethora of benefits to consumers and operators alike. Consumers purchase the product and operators reap the benefits in a stronger bottom line. In some cases, operators have reported that fresh food makes up 25 percent of micro market sales and that number continues to grow.
But one thing operators can’t do is get complacent with fresh food offerings. Current micro market operators report that those consumers who are used to micro markets demand a variety of fresh food options that change often.
To keep the bottom line strong, operators should constantly be looking for fresh food options that can work in the micro market. Use convenience and grocery stores for ideas or try partnering with a local restaurant to offer some of their branded fresh food items.
There is so much potential when it comes to fresh food offerings in micro markets—make sure you’re offering a sophisticated fresh food program to your customers.