March 31, 2005 - Author: Gretachew Abate and H Christopher Peterson
Consumption trend and market drivers
Vegetables have been one of the fastest growing food items over the past many years. In particular, due to consumers’ shift towards fresh products in recent years, per capita consumption of fresh vegetables has seen a significant increase over the last two decades. In contrast, consumption of canned vegetables has declined, while consumption of frozen vegetables remained unchanged. Vegetable juices and juice drinks appear to follow consumption trends of other processed vegetables. Frozen vegetables remained to be the least popular way to consume vegetables in the U.S.
The domestic demand for vegetable products is shaped by a myriad of market forces. A combination of factors such as wellness, indulgence, convenience, ethnicity, value, and demographic forces acting interdependently or independently, influence consumption patterns and demand for fruit products.
Growing number of new products
Overall, new product numbers across all vegetable categories have seen a steady growth during the last couple of years. More than 1,500 products have been introduced in major global markets in the first eleven months of 2004. New products have been introduced in more than 13 product categories including products in the main vegetable category (fresh and minimally processed vegetables, vegetable juices and juice drinks, canned vegetables, dried vegetables, frozen vegetables), and vegetable-containing products (spreads, sauces and seasonings, soups, baked items, fresh prepared and processed meals, side dishes and baby foods and drinks).
The new products have a broad array of diversity in their flavor combinations, product mixes, forms, appearances and size. Many new products have positioned themselves as ready-to-eat healthy snacks, salads, side dishes, etc. Others are coming combined or stuffed with other food items for use in prepared meal kits, soups, baked items, sauces, dressings, dips, or as pizza toppings. Products are also entering the market with different innovative package designs being more convenient, highly portable and storable. Some new products are targeting specific consumer groups (e.g., products designed for school children, older adults, specific ethnic groups, etc.), while others enter the market in the upscale and gourmet product lines. There are also new products that are entering the market for use in specific time of the year or as products tied to special occasions (e.g., vegetable containing foods for consumption around Christmas, in wedding ceremonies, etc.), while others are coming as a substitute to other products. New products are also coming strictly designed for sale through specific retail channels (e.g., vegetable products for sale through mass merchandise retail outlets or food service operators).