Is eco-friendly bagged salad the way to brand loyalty?

Who’s got time to chop vegetables up and throw them in a bowl these days? No one! We truly live in an age of convenience where the laborious duties of making a meal are taken care of for us. For the convenience of bagged salad, all the chopping is done for us and all we have to do is open the bag, pour it in a bowl, and presto! Veggie goodness in a matter of seconds.  

With the absolute ease of making, it’s no wonder why bagged salad has increased in market revenue over the years. In the span of a year in 2016, the bagged salad industry brought nearly $4 billion in annual sales, which was a 5.7% increase from the year previous. Additionally, the salad kit category saw the most revenue with $950 million in sales (31% higher from the year previous) and prepackaged organic salads are on the rise with a 12% increase from the year previous as well.

The numbers certainly speak for themselves, showing that the bagged salad industry is a booming one, but with consumer concerns for how safe these products really are with claims of bacteria still being found in the nooks and crannies of the leaves, the team here at Caddle was interested in diving deeper to understand consumer trends with relation to the industry. From a survey asking over 8,000 of our members, here’s what we discovered.

Lettuce tell you our insights

Salads don’t have to be a boring thing or only eaten for weight loss, in fact, that is the last thing you want when you’re the one trying to sell the salads. It’s easy to go to the grocery store and end up staring at a leafy green wall having absolutely no clue which one to pick. Romaine, spinach, iceberg, or kale salad. What’s the difference? They all taste the same!

With there being so many bagged salad brands on the shelves, it’s critical for new innovations to hit the market to gain a competitive edge.

“The ability to continuously innovate is the most important factor in remaining relevant,” said Vicky St. Geme, vice president of marketing for Taylor Farms, Salinas California.

Well start the brainstorming session bagged salad brands because this one’s for you (yes, you!). When we asked our members their openness to bagged salad innovations, 76% of our members said that they would be open to new bagged salad innovations.

Is eco-friendly bagged salad the way to brand loyalty?

St. Geme continues, “standing out amongst our competition and incentivizing the consumer to purchase your product over another by giving consumers new flavour combinations in new packaging formats, and ensuring that the product is the freshest it can be in all segments – organic, kits and blends”.

Of these said innovations, our insights correlate with what St. Geme has mentioned, among some other innovations our members indicated an interest toward. We’ve got you covered bagged salad brands.

Green veggies, green packaging: the perfect combination

If you’re eating salads on a regular basis, you’re likely invested in your health and want to maintain a healthy diet. So why not go the extra step and maintain a healthy planet with biodegradable packaging? 

While bagged salad is quick and easy for the consumer, there is a lot more effort that gets put into producing such a product as opposed to going to the store and picking up the ingredients yourself. Not only does the production process involve a lot of water to clean the veggies, but there is also a lot of plastic packaging that gets used. Especially when producing the kits that contain several plastic bags within one package. 

To resolve this problem, there are a few alternatives that can be considered:

1. Buy a head of lettuce and make the salad yourself

2. Use biodegradable packaging for the bagged salads

Now, considering how well the bagged salad market is doing and how “time-consuming” it is to make a salad, it’s likely that option two is the best alternative for both the consumer and production companies.

At least that’s what our Gen Z members seem to indicate. When asked what innovation they would be most interested in, female Gen Z members indicated that they would be most interested in biodegradable packaging.

Is eco-friendly bagged salad the way to brand loyalty?

Considering that there is the likelihood of there being a single-use plastic ban in Canada come 2021, this would be an innovation that could not only do some good to the environment, but could create brand loyalty for the potential brand’s social awareness and come as a trendsetter for other bagged salad brands to reduce the plastic world we’re consumed in.

“Don’t eat your greens”

Ha – bet you wish you heard that as a child, don’t you? While you likely wished that this is what your parents told you, the circumstances may be a little different from then compared to now. It’s not that we don’t want you to eat your green because they don’t taste good, but rather because they could be harming you.

Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Eating bagged salad likely won’t kill you, but some people are certainly concerned about the number of chemicals and pesticides that are used in the making of bagged salad. And rightfully so.

In the Treehugger blog, Melissa Breyer mentions that “lettuce, spinach, kale and collard greens all score in the top 16 for chemical load in EWG’s [Environmental Working Group] annual ranking of pesticide residues. Conventional greens will likely have equal pesticides regardless if they’re pre-packaged or not, but there are other chemicals to consider as well [such as chlorine]”.

It appears that this concern is among Ontario female millennials as those members indicated that they would be most interested in a pesticide-free bagged salad innovation.

Is eco-friendly bagged salad the way to brand loyalty?

But are consumers willing to put their money where their mouth is? In a survey done by FreshTrends 2018 where they gathered information about the types of products consumers buy, 63% of respondents indicated that they purchase conventional produce while only 12% purchase organic produce.

Is eco-friendly bagged salad the way to brand loyalty?

While pesticide-free and organic are different but have similar qualities when it comes to bagged salad, if consumers truly are willing to purchase these products, similar to biodegradable packaging, this would contribute to a cleaner environment and in turn create brand loyalty for the green efforts bagged salad brands are initiating.

So what?

You must admit, there’s no better feeling than eating poorly over the course of a few days than opening a bag of salad and munching on that for the evening. Its refreshing crunch puts you in a good mood because you know your body is thanking you.

While the bagged salad market is an extremely high grossing industry, there are some areas that could use some improvement in order to keep a competitive edge and ease of mind for consumers. In relation to industry trends and what our members indicated in our survey, it appears that biodegradable packaging and pesticide-free bagged salad is an open opportunity. If you CPG’ers, choose to accept such innovations, we hope you see brand loyalty for your initiatives.

If you’re in the CPG industry and you want to learn more about your consumers and how you can create a competitive edge to your brand, reach out to us so we can accelerate your time to insights and provide you with the information you need.