The Importance of Transparency in the Fresh Department

The Importance of Transparency in the Fresh Department

Today, more than ever, consumers want transparency in the products they buy. From fresh lunch meat to salty snacks, consumers want to be sure the items they add to their grocery baskets are contributing to the lifestyles they desire. And as consumers continue to educate themselves about exactly what’s in—and not in—the items they buy, sales of products with transparent attributes are significantly outpacing conventional products.

Transparency is big business, and more importantly, it’s growing sales. Across the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) landscape in the U.S., sales of products with transparency claims* have grown 9% over last year and now represent 31% of sales. Comparatively, sales of conventional products have dropped 2% over the same period. Products with transparency claims have even managed to grow sales in food categories that are posting declining sales.

And as people continue to shift their spend back to the basics, the perimeter departments lead the charge by accounting for 40.3% of all transparent dollar sales. It doesn’t get much more basic than an apple or salmon filet, so it’s not surprising to see that products with minimal ingredients account for the majority of perishable transparency sales; however, growth rates among claims vary depending on the fresh category. While organic products across the fresh perishable category have grown 10% in the last year, berries, bananas and fresh beef are leading the pack with sales spikes of 29%, 23% and 18%, respectively.

As products with transparency claims become more available, they’re gaining mainstream appeal. Across income levels, age groups and ethnicities, all groups are spending more on products with transparency claims than they were just two years ago, although adoption of the various claims and varies across groups. Access to these products is also evolving. While the majority of sales still occur within the traditional grocery channel, consumers can now find transparent food items in an array of new channels, ranging from gas stations to drug stores.

As competition across the grocery store grows, it’s important for both established and newcomer brands and manufacturers to keep an eye on the growth among products with transparency claims. In light of a recent Nielsen survey that found that 67% of consumers want to know everything that is going into their food, there’s little doubt that the trend will reverse any time soon. By prioritizing full product transparency, brands have an opportunity to attract new customers, and more importantly, keep them.


*Transparency claims include: free from artificial ingredients, clean label, sustainable, organic, fewer than five ingredients; local.