European trends in fresh-cut, pre-packed produce

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 5th February 2009

First introduced in the 1980s, fresh-cut fruits and vegetables were targeted at restaurants, with washed, peeled, cut, portioned, pre-packaged produce are seen as a timesaver in the fast moving foodservice sector. But, the greatest growth prospects now lie in the supermarket aisle, according to a new report.

Supermarket selection grows
“Although foodservice is not to be ignored, retail is the major distribution channel for fresh-cut fruits and vegetables and offers the strongest growth perspectives for these products in Europe,” Rabobank analyst and report author, Cindy van Rijswick, advised.

Since the 1990s, fresh-cut fruits and vegetables have become more commonly available in European supermarkets, showing up first in the UK and France. Gradually, the supermarket selection has expanded from just a bag of lettuce to mixed vegetables, complete salads and complete ready-to-eat meal components.

European market leaders
Consumer emphasis on convenience and healthy living is the key driver for growth in the fresh-cut fruits and vegetables segment. “Per capita, Switzerland and the Netherlands spend more on fresh-cut, pre-packaged fruits and vegetables than the rest of Europe,” Ms Rijswick noted. “The UK is the market leader in Europe with EUR 1.1 billion in fresh-cut fruits and vegetables sales and exemplifies how the market may develop in continental Europe.”

Trends and the economy
In these leaner times, not all European consumers are prepared to pay for convenience and, in the short term, may abandon high priced fresh-cut options for cheaper unprocessed fruits and vegetables.

“Although the fresh-cut fruits and vegetables market is vulnerable to an economic downturn, the general trend of consumers requiring convenient, healthy and flavourful products is not likely to reverse,” the report concluded.