What you need to know

After years of modest but steady performance in the vegetable category, consumer shopping and eating shifts created by COVID-19 were at the root of double-digit growth across segment in 2020. Going into 2021, consumers are adjusting to living in a pandemic world and shifting into the next normal. They are no longer panic buying yet many still cling to the security of feeling prepared. Category sales are expected to eventually recalibrate back to prepandemic growth rates. Prepandemic, consumers overwhelmingly preferred fresh vegetables to frozen or canned for their inherent nutrition but an increased prioritization on long shelf life and convenience has given more attention to non-fresh segments. As consumers try to balance a strengthened focus on wellbeing with the pressures of financial uncertainty, vegetable brands will need to work equally hard to balance convenience, value and health through innovation.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The short-, medium- and longer-term impact of COVID-19 on vegetables

  • Vegetable lessons from past recessions

  • Consumer consumption of and attitudes toward vegetables

  • The importance of fresh on the category


This Report builds on the analysis presented in Mintel’s Vegetables – US, August 2019 as well as the May 2018, May 2017, May 2016 and June 2015 Reports of the same name, in addition to analysis presented in Mintel’s Fruit and Vegetables – US, October 2014 and the October 2013 and February 2012 Reports of the same name. This Report covers the US market for vegetables, which is defined as follows:

  • Fresh vegetables – including whole vegetables (loose and packaged), such as potatoes, carrots and spinach

  • Shelf-stable vegetables – including canned/jarred vegetables and dried vegetables such as mushrooms or beans

  • Frozen vegetables – including bagged/boxed vegetables in the freezer section

  • Fresh-cut salad – including precut lettuce, spinach and kale, as well as packaged salad mixes

Unless otherwise noted, the following foods are excluded from the scope of this Report:

  • Vegetable juices, drinks or smoothies

  • Refrigerated prepared side dishes that include vegetables

  • Tomato sauce, paste and puree and tomato or vegetable-based pasta/cooking sauces

  • Instant potatoes

  • Fruit

COVID-19: Market context

The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US in January 2020. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global health pandemic, and on March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency in the US. 

Across the US, state-level stay-at-home orders rolled out throughout the months of March and April and remained in place through May and in some cases June. During this time, referred to as lockdown, nonessential businesses and school districts across the nation closed or shifted to remote operations.

During reemergence, all 50 states have relaxed stay-at-home orders and allowed businesses to operate with varying levels of social distancing measures in place. The continued spread of COVID-19 infections has driven some states to slow down or reverse course on reopening plans. Mintel anticipates the US will remain in a state of flux through 2021 until a vaccine is available.

Economic and other assumptions

This forecast and subsequent Report assumes that:

  • Unemployment will rest at 10.6% in 2020 before incrementally improving over the next five years

  • US GDP will decline 5.8% in 2020 and increase 4% in 2021, followed by continuous increases until 2025

  • Consumer confidence rests at 78.1% as of June 2020. This is a 5.8% improvement from May of 2020 and a 6.3% improvement from April, indicating that consumer confidence is on an upswing and will continue improving throughout the rest of the year.

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