Local fruits and vegetables continue to be top of mind for Ontario consumers and appear to be more resistant to inflation. Forty-seven per cent of those surveyed indicated that they purchase local “frequently” or “often” and 42 per cent said, “occasionally.” Even with the looming threat of further inflationary pressures, 49 per cent of consumers said that their local produce purchase intentions would remain “about the same.”
The study was conducted by Numerator for the Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) with a consumer panel of more than 50,000.
“It is great to see the support for local remains strong among Ontario shoppers, despite inflationary pressures,” said Stephen Reid, OPMA president. “We want to continue supporting consumers by providing them with the information they need to make the most of the local season.”
Almost 60 per cent of consumers are concerned about the price increases specifically for fresh fruits and vegetables. This has resulted in 45 per cent buying more produce when on sale and 42 per cent shopping at more stores to get the best price. Out of the stores Ontarians turn to for their fresh fruit and vegetable needs, conventional and discount continue to dominate trip choices. Club has also grown in importance, benefiting from growth in both unit and trips, specifically when shopping for vegetables.
"We are excited to work with the OPMA and bring our cutting-edge technology to the produce industry, which has traditionally been under-served when it comes to shopper insights,” said Brian Ettkin, head of strategy & solutions, Canada at Numerator. “This study is particularly important as the industry navigates a very difficult macroeconomic environment."
The organic category remains strong with 40 per cent of Ontarians stating they purchase organic produce at least occasionally. However, it is the most vulnerable category, with 70 per cent of consumers saying they will likely cut back on organics due to inflationary pressures. When asked about what would make consumers more likely to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables they purchase, strong loyalty programs and promotional offers at the retail level were noted as the top answers.
Source: Ontario Produce Marketing Association March 3, 2023 news release