Fresh Produce Sales: Moving More Produce, Organic Veggie Sales Pacing Fruit

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Fresh Produce Sales: Moving More Produce, Organic Veggie Sales Pacing Fruit

The volume of fresh fruits and vegetables purchased by American grocery shoppers increased over the past year, according to the latest installment of the United Fresh Foundation’s “Fresh Facts on Retail” report, which profiled fruit and vegetable sales during the fourth quarter of 2009.

Overall weekly volume for fresh produce increased 6 percent over the fourth quarter of 2008, while dollar sales increased for some categories of fresh fruit and vegetables, often as a result of lower prices.

“While lower prices attracted more consumers to the fresh produce department, we see mixed results in the overall impact in volume and sales,” says Victoria Backer, SVP/member services for Washington-based United Fresh. “However, unlike the past few quarters, we are starting to see a slight increase in overall produce sales, up 0.5 percent compared to the third quarter of 2009, which is a positive sign in today’s unstable economy.”

Produced in partnership with the Perishables Group in Chicago and sponsored by Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte Fresh Produce, United’s “Fresh Facts on Retail” measures retail price and sales volume trends for the top 10 fruit and vegetable commodities, as well as value-added, organic and other produce categories.

Among the highlights of the latest quarterly report:

• Fruit prices were lower by 5.7 percent, resulting in a 6.5 percent increase in volume
• Vegetable prices were 9.2 percent lower on average, resulting in a 5.9 percent increase in volume
• The volume of fruit purchased in the fourth quarter of 2009 increased for every variety vs. the year-ago period, with avocados posting the largest volume growth, up 27.5 percent
• All of the top vegetable varieties increased in volume vs. the fourth quarter of 2008, with prepared vegetables up the most, at 7.7 percent
• Lower average retail prices for value-added fruits spurred a 12 percent increase in volume and 9 percent growth for value-added vegetables
• Organic vegetables outsold organic fruit in dollar and volume sales

In addition, the report’s Quarterly Spotlight feature explored the industry’s organics category, looking at price, volume and dollar sales levels for the top 10 organic fruit and vegetable commodities and the factors driving those trends.

In terms of weekly dollar sales per store, apples topped the organic fruit variety, at $143, followed by berries and bananas. In organic vegetables, packaged salads accounted for $331 in weekly dollar sales per store, followed by carrots and lettuce.

“Fresh Facts on Retail” can be downloaded free for all United Fresh members ($50 for non-members). For more information about how to obtain the report or suggestions for future category spotlights, contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education coordinator, at 202-303-3400 ext. 405. For questions about specific data contained in the report, contact Kelli Beckel at the Perishables Group at 773-929-7013.