Category Partners Powered by Nielsen Discusses Valentine's Day 2021 Lifts for Fresh Produce

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Wed. February 3rd, 2021 - by Melissa De Leon Chavez

IDAHO FALLS, ID - While many questions remain for what the future holds, we are an industry used to betting and laboring against the odds. And here to bring clarity is Category Partners Powered by Nielsen, looking to ensure the latest information is sharpened and ready to bring that cutting edge.

Steve Lutz, Senior Vice President of Insights and Innovation, Category Partners“Any produce manager worth his salt knows strawberry sales jump during Valentines Day week. What other categories get a lift?” Steve Lutz, Senior Vice President of Insights and Innovation, says, immediately capturing my attention. “Valentine’s Day sales in produce departments of supermarkets show some significant sales shifts. The extent to which the growth in specific produce categories during the week of Valentine’s Day is driven by the event itself or if the lift is simply a reflection of seasonal production shifts is less clear.”

Dipped and covered fruits, he points out, experience one of the largest sales weeks of the year during Valentine’s Day.

Strawberries and dipped fruit herald big sales booms in the days surrounding Valentine's Day, reports Steve Lutz of Category Partners

“Last year, Dipped Fruit sales jumped nearly 300 percent from the three week average during Valentine’s Day,” Steve relays. “Strawberries, another strong performer during Valentine’s week, jumped 70 percent and drove an incremental increase of $16 million dollars in retail sales. What is probably more revealing, however, is nearly all major vegetable categories historically decline during the week of Valentine’s Day. Most likely, this is a reflection of consumers opting to dine out in what traditionally has been one of the biggest weeks of the year for restaurants.”

This brings into sharper focus whether the environment created by COVID-19 precautions and a general new breeze 2021 is riding may bring a new trend to produce department sales during the week of Valentine’s Day.

Steve Lutz of Category Partners details that some retailers may see a jump in their vegetable sales in the week leading up to Valentine's Day

“While restaurants are beginning to re-open across the country, consumers are much more likely to be dining at home this year than we would normally see. As such, produce departments should anticipate higher than normal sales in many of the vegetable categories,” Steve points out. Because, the reality is many households might still face limited dining out options or consumers will opt out of restaurants completely due to safety concerns. “With reduced out-of-home dining options, this suggests that Produce Departments should anticipate sales that exceed normal Valentine’s Day expectations. Basing sales expectations for Valentine’s Day on previous years’ history runs a significant risk of missing sales opportunities in this new COVID environment.”

In short, fruits are still budding while home-cooked meals, including salads and vegetables, are likely back on the table for Valentine’s Day 2021.

Category Partners