Organic fresh produce sales are robust and growing throughout the country, accounting for more than 10 percent of all produce dollars through the first quarter of 2017, according to the Organic Produce Network (OPN). Organic packaged salads remain the category driver, responsible for 20 percent of all organic fresh produce sales. Behind packaged salad sales, berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.), and apples comprised the top three organic fresh produce items sold in March.
Teaming with marketing research firm Nielsen, the Organic Produce Network analysis of organic fresh produce sales at retail stores across the country for March 2017 showed organic fresh vegetables accounted for a larger portion of organic dollars than fruits ($189 million vs $119 million). Of special note, nearly one-third of all carrot and cooking green vegetables were sold as organic during the period.
Organic berries and apples accounted for nearly two-thirds of all fruit sales ($62 million) during March. Organic fruit commodities sales and volume will grow significantly in the coming months, with organic melon and grapes production beginning in California.
"Transparency continues to be a driver of growth as a majority of consumers demand to know how their products are made, grown, or raised. Retailers and manufacturers continue to adapt to this trend across the entire store, including produce, where organic sales continue double-digit growth rates," Andrew Mazursky, of Nielsen said.
One area of potential opportunity is the underdeveloped “value added” organic fresh produce category, as organic value-add items stood at just five percent of all value-add sales in March. The marketing of convenience and value-added organic items toward affluent consumers provides a potential opportunity; however, organizations need to be cautious the additional value may drive the price too high for some customers.
“Partnering with Nielsen to provide OPN readers with the most current and relevant information as it relates to the fastest growing segment of the fresh produce industry is an essential component of our mission and one we look to develop further in the coming months.” said Matt Seeley, CEO of OPN.
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