The sales of organic fresh produce in the US have begun strongly for the first quarter of 2018.
According to the Organic Produce Network (OPN), there was eight per cent dollar and volume growth compared to the first quarter of 2017, with berries, potatoes and avocados increasing by double digits in sales and volume.
Organic packaged salads remain the category driver, responsible for 19 per cent of all organic fresh produce sales. Behind packaged salad sales were organic berries and apples, with the three categories making up 40 per cent of all organic fresh produce sales for the quarter.
Teaming with marketing research firm Nielsen, the OPN analysis of organic fresh produce sales at retail stores across the country for the first quarter of 2018 showed organic fresh vegetables accounted for a larger portion of organic dollars than fruits ($632m vs $400m). Other organic items sold in the produce department including herbs, spices, beverages and dressings totaled $205m, according to Nielsen, for a total of over $1.2bn in organic produce sales for the quarter.
Organic berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) continue to see strong growth, making up 13.5 per cent ($166m) of all organic fresh produce sales and over 40 per cent of all organic fruit sales. More importantly, the organic berry category saw a 21 per cent increase in dollars compared to the last Q1 of 2017 and a 26 per cent growth in volume compared to a year ago.
“Organic fresh produce continues to be a major revenue generator at retail. In addition to berries, organic potatoes, mushrooms, herbs/spices, beverages and avocados all increased by double digits in both dollar and sales volume compared to the first quarter of last year,” commented Matt Seeley, CEO of OPN. “At the same time, per Nielsen data, conventionally grown berries, beverages mushrooms, potatoes and herbs/spices were all flat or declined in volume sales.”
Matt Lally, Client Manager for Nielsen, said that the first quarter numbers reflect continued growth for all organic fresh produce.
He explained: “Parents and millennials have led the surge in sales, which could prove quite the combination in the coming years as more millennials become parents. Today’s consumer is interested in eating simpler, cleaner products and this is seen in the continued growth of organic fresh produce.”