Three Fresh Holiday Trends and 2024 Forecast for Retailers and Foodservice Companies

Every year, the holidays generate seasonal produce and retail surges. In fact, in December alone, our Robinson Fresh team will deliver over 175 million pounds of fruits and vegetables from 12 countries around the world to restaurants and stores in the U.S.

While inflation and weakening consumer demand have been eating into retail sales expectations this year, we see signs for a surge in grocery and retail channel growth as large family gatherings drive demand for both fruit and vegetables. In fact, despite the consumer dollar being under pressure, signs still point to a strong Christmas season for retailers with spending projected to come in near or slightly better than 2022 levels.

December holiday trends*:

  1. 93% of survey respondents expect to celebrate Christmas this year; 80% expect to purchase food for their holiday celebrations and 87% expect to spend the same or more than last year.

  2. While vegetables dominate at Thanksgiving, fruit tends to be more popular at Christmas. Apples, pineapples, citrus and avocados tend to be top selling items in the two weeks prior to Christmas. 

  3. Online retailers will likely see the most sales activity this Christmas season (70% of survey respondents expect to shop online) while 39% say they will spend at traditional grocery stores.  

The uptick in online sales reinforces the need for retailers - both big and small – to incorporate an omnichannel approach which will help create a cohesive physical and digital shopping experience. A digital presence, coupled with strong loyalty offers, will help retailers draw consumers, both in store and online, seeking fruits and vegetables for their holiday celebrations.

Fresh trends for 2024

Looking ahead to 2024, supply chain data, transparency and customer trust will continue to play an increasingly critical part in the foodservice, grocery retailer and consumer relationship, especially as retailers look for strategic ways to adjust to consumers’ ever-changing buying patterns.

Here are three trends that retailers and the foodservice industry should keep in mind to optimize sales, ensure customer loyalty, and create greater efficiencies across the full fresh supply chain.

  1. Surety of supply continues to increase in importance due to global supply chain disruptions caused by climate change and unrest in traditional growing regions. As retailers and the foodservice industry work to keep their shelves stocked, providers need to consider new growing regions and ensure transportation of those goods to the market through temp-controlled transportation providers.

  2. Reduction of costs across perishable supply chains is also top-of-mind for retailers and foodservice companies. There has been an increase in refrigerated goods moving through the supply chain, which has led to a shortage of available warehouse space. This has caused the cost of existing warehouse space to rise, increasing overall supply chain costs. Robinson Fresh works to mitigate these costs by helping design more efficient supply chains and incorporating new capacity as it becomes available.  

  3. Advanced technology is top of mind for our customers. Tools to help with demand forecasting can help retailers and the foodservice industry to be agile and respond quickly to market fluctuations. Artificial intelligence, advanced analytics and automation will continue to grow in importance helping to create efficiencies and remove complexity. If used effectively, these tools will help to ensure shelves are stocked adequately, helping reduce over or under supply.  

As a division of C.H. Robinson, which partners with over 7500 retailers, Robinson Fresh has a front row seat to the ups and downs retailers are facing.

To see how we can help with your sourcing or end-to end supply chain needs, connect with a Robinson Fresh expert.

*Source: Numerator Q4 2023 Holiday Survey 

Jose Rossignoli
President Robinson Fresh
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