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Impact of COVID-19 on organic produce has been minimal in the US

The COVID-19 pandemic did not affect supplies of organic fruits and vegetables shipped in the US. As a matter of fact, volumes were strong and demand stronger than ever. This was thanks in part to the virus, but also to long-existing conditions that have steadily lifted demand for organic product.

Between March 1 and April 18, organic apple sales climbed 18% over the previous year, according to Nielsen data cited by David Roby, brand manager for Yakima-based Domex Superfresh Growers.

The coronavirus played some role in that, Roby said, but many other factors were at play, too. “Consumer sentiment was already shifting towards organic apples as they became more accessible and affordable,” Roby said. “There were a lot of other trends that have boosted organic apples and all produce in general, including the increase in home meal preparation and focus on a healthier diet. These habits could stick with today’s kids for a lifetime, which would be good for health in the United States, and good for farmers.”

"Organic apples lend themselves well to bags (consumers want them for perceived safety), value, convenience (grab-and-go/home delivery ease) and kid-friendliness," Roby added.

The coronavirus has “not really changed anything” about Well-Pict Inc.’s organic program, said Jim Grabowski, marketing director of the company, based in Watsonville, California.

“For most of the time, it's business as usual,” Grabowski said. “Demand for organic strawberries at this time is somewhat like a seesaw. It goes up, levels off, goes down — fairly unpredictable.”

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