“While grocers continue to see sales gains - 1% over the previous 52 weeks - from the sale of bulk lettuce, salad kits are stealing the spotlight in the race to the checkout line,” says Nielsen in a blog post.
“Within the category, complete salad kits are growing the most, generating $950m in sales in the last year, up a whopping 31% from the previous year. Packaged salads that include a protein accompaniment represent another opportunity for retailers, as 61% of consumers cite products that are high in protein as an important influence when making purchase decisions.
“Consumers are craving healthy meal solutions, and packaged salads present manufacturers and retailers with an opportunity them to help them crack the code to healthy eating.”
Organic prepackaged sales +12% YoY
Prepackaged organic salads are also growing faster than the category average, with a 12% increase in dollar sales to $715.8m over the previous year, adds the market researcher.
“With 48% of consumers choosing local, natural and organic options when they’re available, sales of organic salad kits continue to grow.”
However, salad blends – encompassing things mixed Romaine, spring mix, Italian etc – did not fare so well, with sales down 1% to $964.3m.
"While we have clearly had performance issues at Earthbound over the past year, we believe our original investment thesis for this business remains intact. The organic packaged salads category continues to be very attractive, growing high single-digits this past quarter. Fresh foods are increasingly important to consumers and supported by the trends towards organic, wholesome, and minimally processed foods and beverages.
"The Earthbound Farm acquisition provides us the scale platform to grow on the perimeter of the store along with the leading organic brand to innovate behind and extend beyond salads."
Gregg Engles, CEO and chairman, WhiteWave Foods, Q1, 2016 earnings call, May 10, 2016
According to Nielsen, other growth areas within fresh include:
- Value-added vegetables (includes pre-cut veggies and veggie trays): +8%
- Value-add fruits (pre-cut mixed fruit and apples): + 8%
*The sales data was derived from Nielsen Perishables Group FreshFacts, 52 weeks ended April 2, 2016.