Organic produce is a quiet sales powerhouse. A key growth driver for the produce department, organic produce demonstrates its appeal with continued double-digit dollar growth. Volume growth shows extremely healthy numbers, especially for organic fruit. Consumers concerned about clean eating and the all-important Millennial group lead the way in this area.
Sales of organic fresh produce hit almost $5 billion last year, up 8 percent from 2016, according to a review of 2017 organic fresh produce sales at U.S. retail stores by Organic Produce Network (OPN) and Nielsen. The percentage of shoppers choosing organic produce is increasing every year, from 52 percent in 2015 to 60 percent in 2016 to 62 percent in 2017. Organic produce, however, accounts for less than 8 percent of the total retail produce market, according to a report from Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI), “The Power of Produce 2017.”
- Organic produce sales are currently booming, thanks especially to clean-eating trends, and health- and environment-minded Millennial shoppers.
- Berries are particular standouts in the organic produce segment, having increased an impressive 23 percent in sales.
- Retailers such as deep-discounter Aldi are battling the perception that organic produce is prohibitively expensive by offering it at value prices.
- Overcome supply issues by spotlighting, and creating organic produce displays to feature, what’s readily available.
Small percentage of the department or not, shoppers who choose organic fruits and vegetables are valuable to the entire store. Organic produce customers spend more when they shop than other customers, and they shop more often. Retailers could lose $5,800 or more of a shopper’s annual spend if the shopper decides to go elsewhere for organic produce. Elsewhere could be a supercenter such as Walmart, or a discount store such as Aldi, both of which tout their organic produce offering.
As well as strong upward sales, there are other trends for the organic produce segment as well:
‘Berries, Berries, Berries’: Top Sellers
Organic berry volume sales have increased by an astounding 23 percent, with sales topping $586 million in 2017, according to recent numbers from OPN/Nielsen. Other top sellers are apples and bananas, increasing in volume by 11 percent and 17.5 percent, respectively.
“Berries, berries, berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries,” observes Jay Schneider, produce director for Malvern, Pa.-based Acme Markets, a division of Albertsons. “They are the biggest growth items and started to really kick in at the second half of 2017. The trend will continue to climb in 2018. The organic customer today is more educated than years ago, and they understand conventional berries are more susceptible to chemicals or pesticides.”