Monterey, CA—Organic fresh produce sales continued to grow in the first quarter of 2022, increasing by 4% from the same period last year and topping $2.3 billion for the quarter. That’s according to the Q1 2022 Organic Produce Performance Report released by Organic Produce Network (OPN) and Category Partners.
The report notes that overall volume did decline, which was attributed to elevated pricing. A release from OPN points out that conventional produce showed the same pattern, with sales up 7% for the quarter (totaling $16.8 billion) and volume declining by 2.7%.That higher average retail pricing in Q1 was credited for most of the produce sales gains, OPN reported, with conventional produce average pricing up more than 10% compared to Q1 2021. Organic fresh produce pricing rose just below 5%, which OPN said suggests it has been able to absorb more of the increased costs related to the current inflationary environment.
“There are some strong takeaways from the Q1 data, most notably that overall volumes remain elevated from Q1 2019, before the COVID pandemic drove double-digit sales and volume gains at retail,” said Tom Barnes, CEO of Category Partners, in the release. “We believe the second quarter of this year will tell a similar story as we move further away from 2020 when the pandemic shuttered most foodservice, causing supermarket sales to soar.”
Looking at specific categories:
- Packaged salads dominated in total organic dollars at $400 million for the quarter, a gain of 1.5% year-over-year.
- Sales for the berry category (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries) grew 9.3% in Q1 2021; strawberries gained in both dollars and volume of more than 16% while blueberries dipped 7% in dollars and 19% in volume from 2021.
“While organic fresh produce volume declined for the first time in a long while, organic dollar sales continue to grow even after consecutive years of growth due to higher prices across the entire produce department,” said Matt Seeley, CEO of Organic Produce Network. “There remains room for growth of organic fresh produce as long as suppliers remain aware of not only the rising costs of organic produce but also the opportunity presented by a significantly larger increase in conventional produce prices.
The report utilized Nielsen retail scan data covering total food sales and outlets in the U.S. over the months of January, February, and March of 2022. The full Q1 2022 Organic Produce Performance Report is available on the Organic Produce Network website here.