OPN CEO Seeley Talks Organics at PMA
Matt Seeley, the CEO of the Organic Produce Network, conducted an educational session on trends in the organic produce sector during last week’s Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit. Seeley and a trio of retailers dissected the category discussing challenges and opportunities.
The OPN executive set the stage for the panel discussion by noting that it is the younger shoppers driving demand and continuing this era of double-digit year-over-year growth in sales. He said millennials are buying products in the organic category at a pace much higher than the average shopper. And the majority of the products that they are buying are fruits and vegetables. He said the organic food category is a multi-billion dollar industry with fresh produce accounting for more than 36 percent of those sales. He revealed that organic fresh fruit and vegetable sales were just shy of $16 billion in 2016, according to an analysis of scan data. While the figure varies across the country, on average organic fruits and vegetables make up about 10 percent of total produce department sales. However, the category is even more important than that as it accounts for freater than a third of year-over-year growth.
It appears that it is trending up within the entire supermarket as well, as organic items are increasingly being used as an ingredient. Seeley said the baby food aisle in every grocery store is now dominated by organic labels.
Joining him in a panel discussion were Oleen Smethurst of Costco Wholesale Canada, Scott Calandra of Michigan-headquartered Meijer supermarkets and Jeff Brown of Wakefern Food Corporation, which operates out of the Northeast. The three retailers talked about many different challenges, agreeing most of the time.
Smethurst said Costco Canada is new to the organic game and is still trying to figure it out. Though a player in the category for more than two decades, Calandra agreed that the category can be baffling, noting that he is often wrong as to how sales of a specific organic item will fare as they have had both sales gains and declines that are difficult to predict.
Discussing merchandising techniques, Calandra said the retailer is “trying to crack the code” as to how to position organics within the department. Meijer operates supercenters with more than 6500 square feet of produce. The supermarket has experimented with merchandising organics in a variety of ways and is currently integrating the organic produce items next to the same conventional item. He said that concept is working, but allowed that just as you think you have it figured out, sales don’t match your expectations.
Brown said Wakefern Food Corporation’s organic produce sales are above 5 percent of produce sales and on the rise. He has been encouraged recently by repeat sales of an organic item after a promotion ends. He believes signage is very important to differentiate these items from their conventional counterparts, and the other two panelists agreed.
Calandra and Brown agreed that supply is an issue at times and can hamper growth of the category. But Brown said that also happens on the conventional side. He noted that at the current time – late October – it was difficult to get good supplies of both organic and conventional berries.
While the retailers agreed that locally-grown product trumps organic produce in the view of consumers, organic product, locally grown, is at the top of the charts.
Organic fresh produce is one of the most wholesome, healthy foods you can consume.
The word "organic" refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed.Read More
Campbell Fresh President and Best-Selling Author Confirmed as Keynote Speakers at Organic Produce Summit
Monterey, CA (January 16, 2018) - The president of one of the worlds most recognized consumer fresh brands and a thought-provoking best-selling author have been confirmed as keynote presenters at Organic Produce Summit 2018, this coming July in Monterey, CA.Read More
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Partnering with Nielsen, OPN’s review of third quarter organic fresh produce sales at retail stores across the country shows dollar sales of organic fresh vegetables were $576 million while organic fresh fruit sales were $408 million. The remaining time $173 million organic fresh sales are “other produce items”, which includes organic herbs/seasonings, beverages and dressings. Collectively, organic fresh fruits and vegetables represented 10.2 percent of all produce dollars at the end of the third quarter.Read More
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Costco Sponsoring "Meet the Farmer" At Organic Grower Summit 2017; Exhibit Area Sold-Out for First Ever Event
Monterey, CA (September 12, 2017) — The largest retailer of organic food sales in the United States announced their commitment to participating in the inaugural Organic Grower Summit (OGS) this coming December 13-14, in Monterey, CA. Costco, with annual fresh produce sales of $4 billion, will sponsor a half-day event providing certified organic farmers and growers the opportunity to meet with Costco buyers.Read More
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The OGS will bring together the entire organic production chain as well as service and supply partners at one informative event. Organic growers, producers and handlers from fresh produce, dairy, meat and grain sectors will have the opportunity to network and learn with suppliers, service providers, packaging and technology companies, equipment manufacturers and other companies critical to their success.
“CCOF growers look forward to this rare opportunity to network with each other and with other organic sector leaders and innovators,” says CCOF CEO Cathy Calfo, “Growers are key to meeting the demand for organic products and grower-driven events like this summit are important to their success.”Read More
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Salinas, CA – (January 8, 2017) –Responding to double-digit growth in the fastest growing retail food category, a pair of produce industry veterans have announced the formation of a new company to connect facets of the organic produce community through education, information and live events.
Matt Seeley, former vice president of marketing for The Nunes Company, and Tonya Antle, former vice president of organic sales for Earthbound Farm have teamed to develop The Organic Produce Network (OPN).
OPN is being designed as the voice and go-to resource for all things related to organic produce. The company’s mission is to inform and educate through a strong digital presence with an emphasis on original content, and complemented by engaging live events which bring together various components of the organic food community.Read More