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OPN Connect Newsletter 284 · September 1, 2022

It's Time to Focus on Moving More Organic Produce


With inflation resulting in higher prices for many organic produce items, it's time to focus on improving sales volume—and there are plenty of merchandising solutions that can help.

Obviously, when product costs rise, they are passed along to consumers through higher prices at the stores. This is why we need to focus on aggressive selling to prevent product movement from slowing down.

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According to a recent report by Organic Produce Network and Category Partners, 2022 second quarter organic produce volume decreased by 2.8 percent year over year but had an increase of 3.7 percent in dollars. It also revealed that organic produce volume for the second quarter declined year over year for the first time in the past three years.

Conventional produce vs. organic produce

The sales dollar increase was generated mostly by the escalated retails. Consumers spent more money to purchase similar product amounts. Some shoppers also bypassed certain favorites or cut back by purchasing lesser amounts, which reduced the organic produce volume.

Vitalis June 2024

My personal price checks taken this past March and July showed that organic produce prices increased by 8.4 percent in just four months, and conventional produce prices increased by 16.7 percent.

According to a recent report by Organic Produce Network and Category Partners, 2022 second quarter organic produce volume decreased by 2.8 percent year over year but had an increase of 3.7 percent in dollars. It also revealed that organic produce volume for the second quarter declined year over year for the first time in the past three years.

How do we fix the drop in organic produce volume? We must turn to the most workable means in this business—firing up the merchandising engines.

I've always had a strong opinion about where selling originates. While promotional plans and strategies begin in the home office, the real sales activity lies in the store with the frontline workers—starting with the produce manager.

It’s no secret that merchandising skills are more sophisticated in the produce department compared to other areas of the grocery store. The manner in which produce displays are presented is critical for captivating shoppers and convincing them to purchase a product.

Produce managers have spent the better part of this year dealing with inflationary pricing and controlling threatening waste because of it. Along with the labor shortage, this has taken time away from building creative displays. When produce displays lose their ingenuity, shoppers are less likely to make purchases.

How do we fix the drop in organic produce volume? We must turn to the most workable means in this business—firing up the merchandising engines.

Cal-Organic June 2024

The second quarter organic produce shortfall of 2.8 percent in volume occurred due to customers avoiding the much higher-priced items. Some also substituted lower-priced conventional items for the organic ones they usually buy.

Here are some general tips to promote more organic volume:

  • Focus on existing customers. The loyal organic customers have already established themselves in your store. Maintain full, fresh, high-variety organic sections in order to prevent losing these organic customers to your competition.
  • Advertising. The best way to move more organic volume is to advertise and promote it. The lower prices of promoted organic items will draw customers to your store.
  • Push the popular. Concentrate on promoting the organic items in high demand. Organic consumers prefer berries, grapes, apples, carrots, tomatoes, and bananas the most. Be more aggressive in promoting those items.
  • Combine organic and conventional items. Advertise and display the same item varieties alongside one another. For instance, promote conventional broccoli and organic broccoli side by side on a display. This will draw the interest of both organic and conventional customers.

Side-by-side display of organic and conventional cherries

Boosting organic produce sales volume is all about generating excitement with full displays, strategic merchandising, and strong advertising and promotions.

 

Ron Pelger is a produce industry adviser and industry writer. He can be contacted at 775-843-2394 or by e-mail at ronprocon@gmail.com.

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