Sales of organic fresh produce are rising loudly a new report published by Organic Produce Network and Category Partners. The results show that total sales and volume of organic fresh produce increased in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, while conventionally grown produce decreased.
The report, used by Nielsen retail grocery sales scan data in April, May and June in the United States, found that organic fresh produce sales rose 4.1% while sales of conventional products rose 3.3 % have decreased. The amount of organic products hardly changed in the 2nd quarter compared to the previous year (+ 0.2%). However, the volume of conventional products fell by 8.6%.
Despite the positive development, organic sales and volume growth for the quarter lagged behind the historical trends – this can be attributed to the panicked buying behavior that characterized the second quarter of 2020.
The results of the top 10 organic product categories in the second quarter of 2021 were mixed. Citrus, apples, lettuce, bananas and berries showed strong year-over-year sales growth, while sales of tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, salads and herbs declined slightly. Surprisingly, the berry category overtook packaged salads for the first time as the top organic category in dollar sales with an increase of 19%.
Another unusual development in the second quarter was that the western United States, a region that usually leads the country in organic sales, posted a 0.2% decline. Instead, the strongest sales growth was recorded in the Northeast with a plus of 7.7%.
Buying food by consumers appears to be emerging as a traditional shopping behavior, replacing the habits formed during the COVID-19 pandemic. “As the pandemic was overcome and foodservice channels reopened, the widespread pantry loading subsided in the second quarter of last year,” said Matt Seely, CEO of Organic Produce Network. “The result is that many product categories saw little, if any, growth in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the previous year. The fact is that organic fresh produce continued to achieve growth in sales and volume compared to the previous year, while conventional products decreased compared to the same period of the previous year. “