Are Salads Becoming Trendy?

Earlier this week, I wrote about McDonald's push into the salad market, a smart and profitable move. Evidently, the salad business is heating up even more, as Chiquita Brands announced it will buy Fresh Express, the bagged salad giant, for $855 million. In buying Fresh Express, Chiquita CEO believes the salad market is "vastly underdeveloped."

Here's why: The profit for bagged lettuce Chiquita will sell is twice that of the fresh fruit the Cincinnati-based company sells. With the conclusion of this deal, lettuce will account for a staggering 23 percent of Chiquita's sales.

As you can imagine, the market for fresh-cut lettuce is expected to become a $3 billion industry in 2005, more than a three-fold increase over a decade ago. And, Saladworks, a small chain of 67 fast-food restaurants specializing in made-to-order salads, expects current year sales to climb 53 percent.

One warning: Be careful with the commercial salad dressings provided at most salad bars or fast-food restaurants, as they are typically full of trans fat, sugar and other less-than-ideal ingredients. Don't ruin a healthy salad with an over-processed dressing. Choose olive oil instead.

USA Today February 24, 2005

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