Fluctuating Produce Prices Factor Strong in Q1

Fresh produce retail prices fluctuated in the first quarter of 2012, though fruit categories managed to remain steady while the majority of vegetable products decreased in average retail price compared to the first quarter of last year. Organic and value-added fruit and vegetable products fared well regardless of variable retail prices, with consumers continuing to pay a premium for the products, according to the latest edition of FreshFacts on Retail, the quarterly retail research report of the United Fresh Foundation.

Supermarket produce dollar sales were steady this quarter, while volume increased slightly compared to last year. These shifts were caused by a 1.3 percent decline in average retail price. Fruits were the strong drivers behind produce dollar gains, with an average retail price increase of 1.5 percent that increased dollar sales 3 percent and volume 1.4 percent.

The FreshFacts on Retail report, produced in partnership with the Nielsen Perishables Group and sponsored by Del Monte Fresh Produce, measures retail price and sales trends for the top 10 fruit and vegetable commodities, as well as value-added, organic and other produce categories.

Highlights of the latest quarterly report find:

  • Four of the top 10 fruits and three of the top 10 vegetables posted dollar sales that exceeded Q1 2011. Berries and avocados were the primary drivers of both dollar and volume growth within fruits, and mushrooms were the only vegetable category to post dollar and volume growth.
  • Value-added fruits continued upward growth in dollar sales during Q1 2012, up 4.7 percent from a year ago with fresh cut fruit as the top performer.
  • Value-added vegetables had larger gains in weekly dollar and volume sales than value-added fruits. This upward movement was unaffected by average retail price, as prices for the four value-added vegetable sub-categories slightly decreased or remained steady compared to Q1 2011.
  • Organic produce posted double-digit growth in dollar and volume sales during Q1 2012, despite an average 80 percent price premium over conventional produce retail prices. Weekly dollar sales per store of organic fruits increased 28.6 percent and organic vegetables by 11.0 percent compared to the first quarter of last year

The complete FreshFacts on Retail report can be downloaded free of charge for all United Fresh members ($50 for non-members). For more information about how to obtain the report, please contact Shannon Young, United Fresh education manager, at 202-303-3400 ext. 405 or [email protected]. For questions about specific data contained in the report, please contact Kelli Beckel at the Perishables Group at 773-929-7013.

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