In early December, a record-breaking 5,000 people from 400 companies attended the 7th New York Produce Show at the Jacob Javitz Center.  Over four days, stakeholders in the produce market explored the state of the industry from diverse angles.

As dietitians, we know the first thing people think of when they think of “healthy food” is produce – fruits and vegetables that make up the basis of a healthy diet.  But today’s consumer is looking for more than just piles of green down the aisles, they crave convenient and “cool” products that deliver on taste, value and give back to the world.  We saw these three trends delivered in the aisles of the NY Produce Show:

Convenience in King
Convenience is frequently cited as a barrier for healthy eating and the produce industry is innovating at rapid speed to address this.  From the floor of the NY Produce Show, we saw convenience play front and center.  Companies delivering on convenience include Crunchies, making freeze-dried veggies and fruit easy and delicious for snacking and baking, Southern Specialties, offering fresh veggies easy for microwaving and Ground2Table with pre-packaged herbs and spices that offer home cooks an easy way to add more flavor to dishes like chicken and meat.  Beyond produce, convenience was on display with Terrafina‘s 100 calorie superfood shots as well as Veggiecopia single-serve veggie dips.

Ugly Produce Produces Win-Win
“Ugly” produce seems to be having its day in the sun, as consumers are rapidly becoming aware of the cost of towering perfection in the produce aisle.  When all the apples and tomatoes must look exactly the same, what happens to all those that don’t?  And the question is:  do consumers mind a little imperfection?  Not so much, especially if the price is right.  SunFed’s Almost Famous line will offer consumers misshapen organics at lower prices.  According to vice president of marketing Brett Burdsal, the idea is to “move consumers away from the notion of perfect-looking produce” in order to reduce waste. The company expects to start shipping the Almost Famous line in early 2017.

The “Wow” Factor
In the past, when shoppers looked for the “wow factor” in their grocery store, the produce aisle was the last place they would look.  All that is changing as consumers, especially “been-there, done-that” millennials, are looking for new and exciting products to positively impact their health.  Vegetables new to the US market such as the Farytale Eggplant and the Shishito Pepper from ArkFoods and lettuces such as Sweet Pea and Pepper Greens from OrganicGirl, as well as new fruits such as Andes Fruits‘ goldenberries from Colombia encourage variety and enthusiasm for the produce market.

We predict 2017 will offer consumers more options for keeping their health on track.  For European readers, check out Erin’s review of the Amsterdam Produce Show here.  Here’s to a happy, healthy new year!


Posted by Julie Meyer, RDN