Total organic fresh produce sales for the third quarter of 2021 saw a continuation of year-over-year growth, increasing by three percent from the same period last year and nearing $2.3 billion for the quarter, according to the Q3 2021 Organic Produce Performance Report released exclusively by Organic Produce Network and Category Partners.
As foodservice sectors continued to reopen, the third quarter of 2021 generated growth in organic fresh produce sales at retail, despite a comp period of Q3, 2020 that was highlighted by pandemic driven shopping which continued to distort traditional consumer purchasing behavior. Organic dollar sales increased by 3.4 percent from Q3 of last year, totaling $2.291 billion for the quarter, with organic volume growing by 1.6 percent in Q3, 2021 compared to the same period last year. Conventionally grown fresh produce sales grew by 1.3 percent in Q3, 2021 while volume declined 2.3 percent compared to Q3, 2020.
The organic berry category (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries) reigned as the number one organic segment in dollar sales for Q3, 2021, with an 11 percent increase in dollar growth over the same period last year, topping $407 million for the quarter. The category also saw volume growth for the quarter, up 7.3 percent compared to Q3, 2020. Apples showed the largest sales dollar increase for Q3, 2021, up 12.7 percent from the same period last year. Lettuce (up 6.3 percent), citrus (up 5.7 percent) and bananas (up 3.8 percent) delivered volume gains, with packaged salad volume down slightly (-0.8 percent) for the quarter. Three categories—berries, apples and packaged salads—accounted for 85 percent of all organic fresh produce dollar growth in Q3, 2021.
“The good news is Q3, 2021 continued generating year over year growth in organic produce sales despite the Q3, 2020 comp period driven by pandemic buying behavior,” said Steve Lutz, senior vice president 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.”
The top 10 organic produce categories showed mixed results in sales and volume for the second quarter of 2021, with berries, apples, packaged salads, lettuce, bananas, lettuce and carrots registering sales dollar gains, while herbs, tomatoes, citrus and potatoes showed modest declines. Berries were also the star performer in volume growth, joining bananas, apples, onions, citrus and lettuce in gains for the quarter.
The Q3 2021 Organic Produce Performance Report utilized Nielsen retail scan data covering total food sales and outlets in the US over the months of July, August and September. The full Q3 2021 Organic Produce Performance Report is available on the Organic Produce Network website here.