Fresh leaves face challenge as the salad market evolves

Suppliers encouraged to innovate as consumers look for unconventional ingredients

The suppliers of fresh leaves have a tough task ahead as salads evolve to embrace new ingredients, says Susan Barratt, CEO of Natures Way Foods, a leading manufacturer of fresh, healthy and convenient produce.

Speaking at the Company’s biennial Supplier Conference, Susan said that the traditional salad of lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes is now dead. Consumers increasingly want innovative products with different ingredients that deliver on taste, health and convenience without breaking the bank. Demand is also driven less by weather and seasonality, with sales more constant all year.

Susan said: “Consumers no longer just want salad leaves; they are looking to their salad purchases to provide a ‘safe adventure’, something a bit different to what they might normally buy, but still within their comfort zone – new ingredients, tastes and textures all delivered at a purse-friendly cost. ”

Consumers no longer just want salad leaves; they are looking to their salad purchases to provide a ‘safe adventure'.

Susan Barratt CEO of Natures Way Foods

Susan outlined to the audience of over 300 suppliers that the theme for this year is volatility and change. Rather than seeing this as negative, Susan highlighted the opportunities that clear insights and innovation can bring: “The salad market is growing, with some retailers offering over 30 different types of salad as part of their range. But we have a tall order to make sure leaves remain interesting.

“This means everything from constant innovation to re-evaluating product formats, but ensuring product quality and safety remains at the core of everything we do.”

Natures Way Foods is the leading supplier of fresh fruit and salad to major retailers and food service industry. It recently celebrated 20 years of business, growing from one SKU to 173, and 20 employees to 870 in that period.