Gourmet salad bowls include kale, beans, nuts, seeds, ancient grains, edamame...

Protein craze hits bagged salad market; gourmet offerings lure higher-spending shoppers, says Packaged Facts

Trader Joe's nutty grain salad has 21g of protein and contains red quinoa, spelt, pistachios, peanuts, pumpkin seeds and edamame with a Thai-style, soy ginger dressing

Retailers that offer an attractive packaged salad range are more likely to attract high-spending ‘foodies’ to their stores, says Packaged Facts, citing data showing that bagged salad shoppers are much more likely to pay extra for healthier products, try out new things, seek out ‘gourmet’ options, and enjoy eating ‘foreign’ foods.

In its latest report, ‘Branded Packaged Produce and Salads’, the market researcher says data from consumer surveys shows that “purchasers of bagged/packaged salads tend to have health concerns and live a healthier lifestyle than does the population as a whole. They are also more likely to be on the cutting edge when it comes to trying new foods and new diet options.

“These consumers are also more likely than the average consumer to be willing to pay more when there health is a matter of concern.”

The protein craze is influencing the bagged salad market

Meanwhile, the protein craze is also influencing the bagged salad market, with many firms adding protein-rich foods to packaged bowl salads from traditional favorites such as chicken, turkey, eggs, cheese and smoked meats; to chia, black beans, chickpeas, walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, almonds, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, and edamame, says the report.

Kale - the superfood of the moment - is also being added to more salad bowls, along with other ingredients consumers may be less familiar with, such as Wasabi arugula, Soba noodles, brown sugar-coated pumpkin seeds, and bok choy, adds the report, which also notes a rise in southwestern-style and Asian-style salads.  

“Salads with upscale, gourmet positioning represent another trend. Salad bowls are the product type most apt to reflect this sentiment; Ready Pac says its Bistro Bowls are comparable to fare found in gourmet restaurants.”

Organic bagged salads, bowls

As for organic salads, consumers “tend to be younger, well educated, and with higher incomes”, notes the report. “They are also more likely than average to be Asian and married with kids.”

(Whitewave Foods - which owns the Earthbound Farm brand, said last week that sales of its organic packaged salads were up in the “low double digits” in the second quarter and that organic products’ share of the total packaged salad category rose by two points to 24% in Q2.)

18-24 year-olds and older consumers less likely to buy packaged salads

However, some groups remain resistant to the lure of the salad bag or bowl, notably 18-24-year-olds (who are “twice as likely as the population as a whole to be disinclined toward the use of fresh produce”) along with older and lower-income consumers, says Packaged Facts.

According to IRI data, multi-outlet sales of refrigerated packaged salads grew at compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4% between 2009 and 2013 to reach $4.96bn in 2013, says Packaged Facts, which estimates that 2013 sales through all retail channels (including those not tracked by IRI) were probably closer to $5.6bn.

The largest share of the refrigerated packaged salads market is taken by private label products, which accounted for 37.7% of dollar sales in 2013, followed by Fresh Express at 25%, Dole at 16.2%, Taylor Farms at 5.3%, Earthbound Farm and 4.5%, and Ready Pac at 3.7%

Click HERE for full details of the report from Packaged Facts, which conservatively forecasts a CAGR for the packaged salads category of 4.6% through 2018, when sales are expected to approach $7bn.

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