OPN Organic Report Shows 9.3% Organic Produce Growth in Q1 2021

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Heap of assorted organic fruits at display on the market stall. Banana, orange, apple.

Monterey, CA—The Organic Produce Network and Category Partners have released the Q1 2021 Organic Produce Performance Report, according to a press release, finding a 9.3% increase from the same period in 2020.

Organic fresh produce sales and volume in Q1 2021 maintained the trend established in March of last year, wherein customers are eating at home more, maintaining elevated sales across the entire supermarket. Looking to the future, the press release states that the question of if, when, and how fast consumers will return to their pre-COVID food purchasing behaviors.

Regardless, however, organic is clearly outperforming conventional: In terms of sales, organic fresh produce saw 9.3% growth year-over-year, while conventional only saw 2.9% growth. In terms of volume, organic grew 5.7%, while conventional declined 0.6%.

“Once again, sales of organic fresh produce continue to be a major growth opportunity for retailers across the country,” said Matt Seeley, CEO of Organic Produce Network, in the press release. “At the same time, as the country enters a post-COVID environment, with restaurants reopening and other foodservice options available, it appears the double-digit growth rate will be slowing.”

The top 10 organic categories drove 72% of total organic volume, and 70% of total organic sales, the press release states. Eight of those categories increased in both dollars and volume; only organic carrots and apples did not. Packaged salads remain the single largest driver of organic dollars, accounting for 17% of all organic sales. Organic berries are a key category during the winter.

“Within the top 10 categories, fresh herbs (+28.2 percent), lettuce (+34.7 percent), and tomatoes (+14.7 percent) generated the largest percentage gains in dollars,” said Steve Lutz, SVP for Insights and Innovation at Category Partners. “In terms of Q1 volume, bananas, carrots, and apples rank as the top drivers of organic volume at retail, generating a remarkable 37 percent of total organic volume. Bananas alone drive 17 percent of all organic volume.”

Start ID: Chart showing top ten categories by dollar in Q1 2021. In descending order: Pre packaged salads ($385m, +9.5%); berries ($339m, +8.8%); apples ($175m, -0.9%); herbs and spices ($123m, +28.2%); carrots ($116m, -1.8%); lettuce ($99m, +34.7%); bananas ($95m, +2.2%); citrus ($83m, +13.9%); tomatoes ($80m, +14.7%); potatoes ($75m, +9.3%). End ID.

The West and Northeast regions continued to be strong drivers of organic, but the press release notes that all regions showed growth this quarter.

The full report is available here.