Apple slices has become a huge market in USA

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Benjamin Singh, director of Food Freshly AFC from Bielefeld, presented in his presentation at the European Convenience Forum 2022 in Bonn the differences between the largest market for freshly cut products in the world, the USA, and the German market. For example, in Germany, the average per capita expenditure on freshly cut products in retail is around 3.78 euros and in the USA around 20.78 euros.

The overall size of the market for freshly cut products in the USA has also grown enormously since the 90s. While the market was still worth 2.6 billion US dollars per year in 1994, the turnover is now around 15 billion US dollars. Especially in the fruit sector, the share of freshly cut fruit almost doubled between 2005 and 2015. In retail in the USA, the share of ready-made salads is generally around 50 percent of the total turnover of freshly cut products, while in Germany ready-made salads account for 80-90 percent of the total turnover of freshly cut products.

Benjamin sees that in the USA there is a network of positioned brands that consumers trust, something that does not exist in Germany in this form. For 27 percent of Americans, this is a reason to buy proven brands for freshly cut products. Another success factor is the so-called ‘health claims’, which means that the health aspects in particular are brought to attention, purposefully placed in the foreground and promoted.

“Retail in the US has succeeded in making targeted use of health trends and using them in marketing. This also includes strategic partnerships that can be formed on the basis of product combinations,” says Benjamin. This means that not only mono brands are promoted, but that whole meals are offered, such as vegetables with nuts, grain, etc., so that balanced meals can also be purchased. “All benefits are printed on the front of the packaging and thus marketed.”

Furthermore, the US market has managed to appeal to various groups, including by using different packaging, which made it possible to expand the portfolio to multi-person households such as families. “By using larger packaging, the use of plastic can also be reduced in relation to the volume of the products. Freshly cut products are also suitable for various occasions, for example as a snack in between, as a small stand-alone meal, for social occasions such as parties or as a basis for self-cooked and full-fledged (hot) meals.”

Benjamin sees opportunities for the German market in communicating the benefits to consumers, for example in terms of time savings. And also in the organic sector there are certainly good opportunities for certain product groups. The sales channels are, for example, schools, nurseries, petrol stations/restaurants, e-commerce and convenience shops.

Freshly cut apples or apple slices as an example

According to the results of a customer survey by Food Freshly, 60-70% of freshly cut products are delivered not to retail but to schools. However, the figures of fast food chains have been disregarded. According to another statistic, 5 percent of apples sold in the U.S. are processed into apple slices for direct consumption, Benjamin said.

“That amounts to about 100,000 tons per year, of which 30,000 tons go to schools alone.”

Fresh apple wedges are also packed in bags of two to five kg with popular varieties such as Gala, Jonagold, Granny Smith, et cetera and can be stored refrigerated for 14-21 days. “They are characterized by a natural taste and high vitamin content, which is also promoted,” says Benjamin. Furthermore, it can be seen that the consumption of apples has clearly increased due to the widespread supply of freshly cut apples: “studies by some US universities show that school students in the US previously consumed 96 grams of apples, while after the introduction of freshly cut apples, consumption is 238 grams per day.”

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