Monterey, CA—Organic fresh produce sales continue to outpace conventional produce growth, according to the Q3 2021 Organic Produce Performance Report released by Organic Produce Network (OPN) and Category Partners. The report found that sales increased by 3.4% over the same period last year, with a volume increase of 1.6% nearing $2.3 billion for the quarter. By contrast, conventional produce sales grew by 1.3% in Q3 2021, while volume declined 2.3%, compared to Q3 2020.
That sales number is in spite of the fact that this time last year saw pandemic-driven shopping, versus this quarter, which saw foodservice sectors beginning to reopen.
The organic berry category took the top spot, with an 11% increase in dollar growth and 7.3% volume growth, bringing the category to $407m. Apples showed the largest dollar increase, up 12.7%.
Lettuce, citrus, and bananas delivered volume gains, although packaged salad was down slightly. Berries, apples, and packaged salads accounted for 85% of all organic fresh produce dollar growth in Q3.
Looking at location, organic performance was weakest in the northeast, where dollars grew 3.8% and volume fell by 1.5%. Overall performance was strongest in the south, where dollar sales grew 4.7%, and volume increased by 3.4%.
“The good news is Q3, 2021 continued to generate year over year growth in organic produce sales despite the Q3, 2020 comp period driven by pandemic buying behavior,” said Steve Lutz, SVP of Insights and Innovation at Category Partners. “It is encouraging to note that even though consumer purchases of conventional produce were lower than Q3 of last year, organic produce continues to generate growth—an indication that the longer-term trend of consumers moving toward organic produce continues to grow as organic’s share of the market rises.”
The report used Nielsen retail scan data covering total food sales and outlets over the course of July, August, and September. The full report is available at the OPN website.