US organic fresh produce sales up 9% in Q1

Total organic fresh produce sales for Q1 2021 saw a continuation of last year’s growth, increasing by 9.3 percent from the same period in 2020 and topping $2.2 billion for the quarter, according to the Q1 2021 Organic Produce Performance Report by Organic Produce Network and Category Partners. 

Total organic fresh produce sales for Q1 increased by 9.3 percent from the same period in 2020.

Organic produce sales and volume in Q1 2021 maintained a trend established in March of last year, with elevated sales across the supermarket as consumers continued at-home eating in light of restaurant closures. Moving into Q2 2021, it is apparent pandemic closures are easing and the question is now: if—and how fast—consumers will return to pre-COVID food purchasing behaviors.

The 9.3-percent year-over-year sales growth of organic fresh produce for Q1 2021 outpaced conventional produce sales, which grew by 2.9 percent. Organic fresh produce volume grew by 5.7 percent, while conventional volume declined 0.6 percent. 

The top 10 organic produce categories continued performing very well, with eight of the top 10 categories generating increases in dollars and volume. Of these top categories, only organic carrots and apples failed to generate year-over-year dollar and volume gains during Q1.

Packaged salads remain the single largest driver of organic dollars, accounting for 17 percent of organic sales. 

The top 10 organic categories drove 72 percent of organic volume and 70 percent of organic sales. In conventional produce, these categories drive only 64 percent of sales and 67 percent of volume.

“Sales of organic fresh produce continue to be a major growth opportunity for retailers. As the country enters a post-COVID environment, with restaurants reopening and other foodservice options available, it appears the double-digit growth rate will slow,” said Matt Seeley, CEO of Organic Produce Network.

Packaged salads remain the single largest driver of organic dollars, accounting for 17 percent of organic sales. During Q1 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 Q1. Q1 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 Q1 volume, bananas, carrots and apples rank as top drivers of organic volume at retail, generating 37 percent of total organic volume. Bananas alone drive 17 percent of all organic volume.”

The West and Northeast are the regions generating the highest increases in dollar growth. 

Year-over-year organic sales and volume increases during Q1 of 2021 were strong in every region of the US. The West and Northeast are historically the strongest regions for organic produce sales and those regions generated the highest increases in dollar growth.

The Q1 2021 Organic Produce Performance Report used Nielsen retail scan data covering food sales and outlets in the US January to March. The full report is available here.

For more information:
Matt Seeley
Organic Produce Network
Tel: +1 (831) 884-5092 

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