U.S. retail sales of organic fresh produce last month rose 18.4 percent to $542.4 million, and jumped 20.5 percent by volume to 182.5 million pounds, as restaurant closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic continued to translate to higher grocery purchases for in-home consumption.
That’s according to a new report on organic fresh produce sold at retail nationwide in April prepared by Category Partners LLC for the Organic Produce Network, LLC (OPN), an online and live content programming group for the organic fresh produce industry.
In March, just as the pandemic’s impact was taking hold, organic produce sales jumped 22 percent to $547 million, and 26 percent by volume, according to the report, which was based on retail sales scan data from Nielsen.
“For the most part, outside of sporadic shortages, the widespread out-of-stock conditions seen in produce departments nationally during March became less of a factor in April as retailers adjusted to higher consumer purchase rates,” said the new OPN report.
Overall, conventional produce sales in April were up 16.3 percent in terms of dollars to $5.2 billion, and up 15.4 percent in terms of volume to 3.4 billion pounds. First quarter sales of conventional fruit and vegetables had grown by 6.6 percent in dollars and 7.7 percent in volume.
The new report also showed that sales of the top 10 organic fruit and veggie items accounted for 72 percent of total organic produce volume in April.
Notably, the top four organic produce items – packaged salads, carrots, apples and bananas – accounted for 52 percent of the total organic retail volume last month.
Overall, the dollar increase in organic fruit and vegetable sales for the first quarter was up 8 percent to $1.6 billion and up 10 percent in terms of volume.
Overall first quarter sales by volume was up by 10 percent, whil
The report also said that both dollar and volume rate of growth for organic produce fell compared to the first quarter of 2019.
Organic dollar share increased to 9.8 percent of total produce and organic volume share increased to 5.5 percent of total produce in the first quarter, the report said.
Organic packaged salads, apples and bananas generated more than 35 percent of total organic produce dollar growth in the first quarter.
Organic bananas, carrots and apples generated 44 percent of total organic volume, with bananas increasing volume growth by 20 percent.
“What we see in the Nielsen data is that organic produce at retail is concentrated within fewer categories than conventional produce, especially in the winter months when locally produced organic products are less available,” said Steve Lutz, senior vice president at Category Partners.
The report also said that first quarter organic produce sales were strongest in the western U.S. with all-commodity volume (the percentage of sales in all grocery categories generated by stores) performance 34 percent of the U.S. average.
U.S. retail sales of organic fresh produce totaled $5.8 billion in 2019, a 5.1 percent increase over 2018, when sales hit $5.6 billion, which was a 17 percent increase over 2017, when the figure hit $4.8 billion, an 8 percent increase over 2016.
Check out the report here.