Sales of organic fresh produce in April increased double-digits in both dollars and volume compared to April 2016, hitting $382 million for the month, according to the Organic Produce Network (OPN). The category driver continues to be organic packaged salads, responsible for 20 percent of all organic fresh produce sales. Organic packaged salads, organic berries and apples were the top three organic fresh produce items sold in April at retail locations throughout the United States.
Partnering with marketing research firm Nielsen, OPN analysis of organic fresh produce sales indicates organic berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.), and apples accounted for nearly two-thirds of all organic fruit sales ($73 million) during April. Total organic fruit sales ----commodity and value added---- for April stood at $120 million, with organic fresh vegetable sales reaching $208 million. Other organic produce items including herbs, juices, dressings and snack mixes totaled $54 million in sales for the month.
Overall, April organic fresh produce sales were up $6 million from March 2017, with organic fresh vegetables responsible for most of the difference. “The growth rates are almost identical to March sales; and while it's fantastic to see the growth year-over-year, the ideal scenario would also be if we saw growth month over month,” said Andrew Mandzy, director of strategic insight for Nielsen.
Several organic commodities shone bright in April where their conventional counterparts struggled. While sales were flat or declining for conventional mushrooms and bananas, their organic counterparts grew by 20 percent in both sales and volume from the previous year.
“Price remains such a critical element for organic success. Commodities with too high of a price difference between conventional and organic did not experience the same growth of organic sales as those with modest price differences” Mandzy 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 April. Of special note, value-added organic carrot, green bean and cooking green vegetables made up nearly 60 percent of the entire organic value-added organic fresh vegetable market during the month.