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OPN Connect Newsletter 195 · December 3, 2020

Organic Produce Challenges Heading Into 2021


In the past, there were small-scale supermarkets with far less display area than in the spacious stores of today. Undersized produce departments were crammed in the rear with limited variety stocked onto modest display fixtures. In those days, produce managers had never even heard of the word "organic."

When consumers walk through produce departments today, they see large sections of organic produce displayed with a full variety of items. Times have changed and so have the supermarket and its customers.

Stemilt October 2021

Supermarket organic produce

Since being hit with COVID last spring, consumers transformed their eating and shopping habits. Customers wanted more than just healthier diets. They pursued safer foods for their families while trying to avoid the invading virus.

Our normal lives have been turned upside down. We are now forced to abide by the pandemic rules. The challenges of the produce business have once again been reshaped.  

Customers wanted more than just healthier diets. They pursued safer foods for their families while trying to avoid the invading virus.

Wish Farms October 2021

Here are seven challenges for organic produce growth for 2021:

Percent of Total Produce Sales. Organic produce has been stranded at 10←12% of total produce sales for some time now. As it has seen dramatic growth, so has conventional produce. Both segments are in a standoff with one another, restraining organics from increasing its total produce share.

Consumer Education. There is still a shortage of public knowledge about organic produce among consumers. Many people do not truly understand all the benefits compared with conventional produce. Educating consumers is still a key point in drawing them over to organics.

Starr October 2021

Organic produce shopper

Price Perception. Without the knowledge of organic agriculture expenditures, many shoppers will remain very sensitive to retail prices.. Those who are more concerned about a healthier lifestyle are willing to pay a premium for organic produce, but regardless, non-organic shoppers need more convincing through advanced education about the additional costs to grow organic product. 

Our normal lives have been turned upside down. We are now forced to abide by the pandemic rules. The challenges of the produce business have once again been reshaped.  

Consumer Trust. Gaining a larger slice of the total produce sales pie only materialize by gaining the trust of current non-organic shoppers through the integrity of the product. Consumers must be convinced of organic's value by farming practices, organic labels, certifications, and the reassuring words of other long-established organic customers.

Chelan October 2021

Marketing Issues. There are many obstacles for small-scale farms in getting their product into retailers. They have far less power than the large corporate farms in dealing with the big retail buying machines. Therefore, it's very challenging for them to enter new markets.

There is still a shortage of public knowledge about organic produce among consumers. Many people do not truly understand all the benefits compared with conventional produce. Educating consumers is still a key point in drawing them over to organics.

Operating Costs. The cost of organic production continues to rise. Controlling expenses in the farm sector, in particular, is a huge factor in profitability. Growing and managing organic crops is very physical and labor-intensive. Controlling weeds, pests, and disease is time-consuming and costly.

Consistent Supplies. Retail produce sales increased dramatically during the early days of the COVID pandemic. The demand for organic produce doubled within weeks of the panic-shopping period. This unanticipated purchasing quickly diminished much of the organic supplies. Growers will have to affirm supply consistency if this influx of new shoppers permanently come aboard the organic train.

NatureSafe October 2021

What may have worked in the past may not necessarily work now. Since this business changed so rapidly, so did customers and their shopping demands. If you don't deliver the items consumers prefer, they won't waste time in finding an alternative supplier or retailer who can easily satisfy their needs. Whether your business is in growing, shipping, distributing, or retailing, the competitive arena is always open for customers to shop around for what they want.

As the organic produce sector progresses, it will continue to diversify. That's why it is important to keep watching organic trends, and the challenges that accompany them.

Growers Ice Co October 2021

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