Innovation in fresh fruits and vegetables is needed now more than ever.

That is one of the takeaways in the Mintel Group’s October 2013 report on the fruit and vegetable market.

The research, conducted in August in an Internet survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers, said that 38% buy prepackaged salads and green mixes for convenience. Further, 26% of survey participants said they buy fresh-cut, packaged fresh fruit and vegetables for the added convenience.

But the industry could do more, consumers say. The Mintel survey said 20% of consumers would like to see more fruits and vegetables available in ready-to-eat, single-serve and portable packaging.

With very modest inflation-adjusted growth in fruit and vegetable sales over the past five years and only tepid growth predicted in the next five years, the opportunity to better meet consumer needs is obvious.

Mintel said new product launches of fruit and vegetable products declined 25% from 2008-12, but at the same consumer interest in convenience oriented products is increasing. The sector suffers from a lack of innovation and poor consumer perceptions of taste and convenience, Mintel concluded.

Based on the number of the convenience-oriented products introduced at Fresh Summit 2013, that trend may be changing.

While we would grade the innovation efforts of the industry better than Mintel does — particularly in recent months — their survey shows 20% of consumers want still more convenience from fresh produce marketers.

So, there is more to do for consumers. And rewards for those who do.

Did The Packer get it right? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.