Organic Produce Network Releases Q1 2021 Organic Produce Performance Report
MONTEREY, CA - Organics continue to drive sales across the grocery store, and the fresh produce department is a chief contributor. The Organic Produce Network (OPN), in partnership with Category Partners, recently released the Q1 2021 Organic Produce Performance Report, which shows a continuation of last year’s organic produce trends. Organic fresh produce sales reportedly increased by 9.3 percent from the same period in 2020, topping $2.2 billion for the quarter.
“Once again, sales of organic fresh produce continue to be a major growth opportunity for retailers across the country. 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,” said Matt Seeley, CEO of OPN.
Organic fresh produce sales and volume in the first quarter of 2021 showed elevated sales across the entire supermarket, as consumers continued at-home eating in light of restaurant closures. However, moving into the second quarter of 2021, it is apparent that the pandemic closures are beginning to ease, and the question has now become if—and how fast—consumers will return to their pre-COVID food purchasing behaviors, a press release noted.
The 9.3 percent year-over-year sales growth of organic fresh produce outpaced conventional produce sales, which grew by only 2.9 percent. Organic fresh produce volume grew by 5.7 percent, while conventional volume saw a decline of 0.6 percent. The top 10 organic produce categories continued to perform well, eight of which generated increases in both dollars and volume. These categories drove 72 percent of total organic volume and 70 percent of total organic sales. In conventional produce, these same categories drive only 64 percent of total sales and 67 percent of volume.
Packaged salads remain the single largest driver of organic dollars, accounting for 17 percent of all organic sales, the press release stated. During the first quarter of 2021, packaged salad dollars saw a year-over-year increase of 9.5 percent. Organic berries have become a key winter category, driving over 15 percent of total organic produce dollars during the first quarter. The first quarter of 2021 was a strong quarter for berries, generating a year-over-year sales increase of 8.8 percent.
“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, Senior Vice President 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.”
Year-over-year organic sales and volume increases during the first quarter of 2021 were strong in every region of the U.S. The West and Northeast are historically the strongest regions for organic produce sales and the two regions that generated the highest increases in dollar growth.
The Q1 2021 Organic Produce Performance Report utilized Nielsen retail scan data covering total food sales and outlets in the U.S. over the months of January, February, and March. The full Q1 2021 Organic Produce Performance Report is available on the Organic Produce Network website here.
To all of our organic fresh produce champions, we salute you!