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    The rise of the health-conscious shopper

    The evolution of retail is driven by innovation

    What is the health-conscious shopper looking for in the supermarket?

    Today’s shoppers are in a hurry. They don’t have time to wander aimlessly around—they want immediate access to exactly what they are looking for. Additionally, the current generation of shoppers is more health-conscious than ever before. This is driving them to search for products that match up to their healthy lifestyle.

    Engaging the health-conscious shopper

    Based on an in-depth consumer survey, The Fruit Logistica Trend Report 2019 tells us that the health-conscious shopper has three critical needs:


    • Fresh produce that is both convenient and healthy
    • Fruits and vegetables that connect emotionally
    • A clear conscience, thanks to products with greater origin transparency and less environmental impact


    Take pre-cut fresh carrots, peas, and broccoli for example. These are all healthy and appetizing ingredients that ready to drop straight into a pan. But the health-conscious shopper also wants to know exactly where the vegetables come from, so that they can be assured that they’ve been produced sustainably.

    Presentation is essential


    Vibrant fresh produce displays are designed not only to grab consumers’ attention, but also to trigger emotional reactions. one common challenge for stores is to strike a balance between creating eye-catching displays and minimizing food waste.


    Plastic packaging helps preserve fresh produce, but it can also be an eyesore and negatively impact the environment. Supermarket Albert Heijn has addressed the shortcomings of plastic packaging by replacing it with ”dry misting,” a method now used in over 150 of its stores. Featuring a refined water spray, dry misting can extend the shelf life of a range of fresh produce, from bananas to peppers and carrots.

    EU-funded FRESH-DEMO technology, another sustainable initiative, is helping transform the way fresh produce is transported. A trial in Spain featured strawberries cooled to 2-4° C directly after harvesting, before they’re treated with a natural orange extract and packed into vans outfitted with humidification technology.


    After being acclimatized for 90 minutes to avoid condensation, the strawberries were put on display in supermarkets along with a spritz of dry mist. Test results indicate that strawberries transported this way have a more intense red color and fresh green crowns, even after 11 days in storage, this innovative process could mark a shift towards more sustainable practices.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

    Signify commissioned a study with the University of Leuven which investigated how customer preferences and color memory play a role in their perception of fresh foods. 


    The study showed that the color saturation of fresh produce is important. Remarkably, people remember the hues and tones of fresh foods as being more saturated than they are in real life, and the color they prefer is even more saturated still—effectively an enhanced version of their memory. This is consistent both with previous studies on other types of fresh food done at KU Leuven and with the 2012 study conducted by the Independent Retail Institute in Cologne, Germany.

    Changes in the food chain

    The argument for local indoor vertical farming is compelling, and has the potential to change how local supermarkets are supplied for the better. Traditional farming all too often uses harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and farms are often hundreds of kilometres from the supermarkets they service, which adds carbon emissions to the supply chain. Even the cooling methods used to preserve fresh food during transportation produce an abundance of CO2.


    Indoor vertical farming combines the right lighting and the best nutrition with controlled levels of water, delivering an efficient and sustainable way of growing fresh produce.

    Producing fruit and vegetables in this way doesn’t reduce the quality. In fact, the right light during growth can optimize quality, enhance taste, prolong shelf life, and preserve the color of fresh produce. Light recipes can even be adapted to enhance texture, helping lettuce to become crisper, for example. Products can also be grown to demand, resulting in much less food and energy waste.

    How smart solutions can help retailers

    Germany’s leading supermarket chain EDEKA is paving the way when it comes to saving energy and reducing waste. Having upgraded their Hamburg store with Interact Retail Scene management software, they are now able to light up their store only when it’s really needed.

    For example, potatoes are best stored in the dark—but of course in a supermarket, that’s not possible. By scheduling the lighting, it’s possible to limit their exposure to light outside of opening hours. The opposite can be done with fresh herbs, by setting the lighting to stay on after opening hours, which can preserve their quality and freshness. The world of retail is evolving faster than ever, and fresh produce is no exception.

    Although we don’t know what lies ahead, we do know that the health-conscious shopper is here to stay. 85% of today’s shoppers are actively trying to improve their diets, while 74% are becoming more aware of the impact of plastic packaging. It pays to invest in an eye-catching yet sustainable fresh-produce department – not only to engage health-conscious shoppers, but to keep them coming back for more. 

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