Natural products are driving growth in almost every category. Shoppers are looking for healthier alternatives to supplement their diets. They’re reading labels because they want to know what’s in their food and how it was produced.

But what about the fresh department? How can retailers capitalize on these important trends in the fresh department to satisfy their shoppers’ needs and attract new loyal customers?

First, retailers need to understand what’s driving the trends in natural. Natural or better-for-you products are capitalizing on shoppers’ demand for products that fully meet their nutritional needs. This includes unprocessed or minimally processed products. This also includes the raw ingredients that the products are made from, like grass-fed animals.

At the heart of the natural product movement is words like “authenticity” and “transparency.” Many consumers believe that “non-GMO” is “better” than organic, but non-GMO simply means that the seeds used to grow a plant aren’t genetically modified. It doesn’t dictate how the crops are cultivated.

Only certified-organic products come with the promise of not containing pesticides and herbicides. Many organic products have “clean labels,” meaning there are complete transparency and authenticity in every step of how they’re made, from the raw ingredients to the final product. This frequently includes sustainable farming methods and giving back in the form of fair wages to growers.

A retailer that wants to be a market leader in better-for-you products needs to offer a healthy balance of natural/organic products to enhance and augment its current product selections.

The fresh department is the entry point for consumers who want healthier products. This is where they begin to explore nutritional options to decide what products will best meet the needs of their families. For example, several experts recommend that children drink only organic milk produced by cows that aren’t treated with antibiotics and are given GMO-produced feed. Others may want fruits and vegetables free of pesticides and herbicides.

The important point here, regardless of retailers’ beliefs regarding organic products, is that consumers want choices. Shoppers want to make choices based on their beliefs, wants, and needs. Retailers willing to provide well-merchandised, quality choices will reap the benefits of increased category sales, loyal shoppers and a reputation for being customer-centric.

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