For the second quarter in a row, organic fresh produce in the US grew slightly in year-over-year sales and volume in the third quarter of 2023, according to the Q3 2023 Organic Produce Performance Report issued by Organic Produce Network and Category Partners.
Overall, organic fresh produce dollar sales and volume increased by 2 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively, for Q3 2023 compared to the same period last year, with sales for the quarter topping $2.44 billion and volume movement at 733 million pounds. Conventional produce dollar sales and volume showed similar year-over-year gains, with sales up 2.4 percent and a volume increase of 1.8 percent.
In a period of continued inflationary pressure, price increases in each segment were considerably less compared to the past two years. Conventional produce average price per pound grew by 0.6 percent compared to the third quarter of 2022, while organic pricing per pound rose by a mere 0.1 percent. Overall, the average price per pound for the total produce department increased by only 1 cent compared to the same period last year.
"The growth in organic produce volume slightly outpacing conventional produce reflects the continued consumer interest in healthier and sustainable food choices," said Tom Barnes, CEO of Category Partners. "It's also heartening to see organics making a comeback after grappling with inflationary pressures in recent years."
In the third quarter, 15 of the top 20 organic fresh produce categories posted increases in dollar sales compared to the same period last year. The organic berry category (which includes strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries) led overall dollar sales with $461 million for the quarter, representing a year-over-year increase of 6.9 percent. Organic broccoli saw the largest sales jump, up 14 percent from the same period last year. The second-largest dollar category—packaged salads—experienced a decline of 5.4 percent in sales in the third quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2022, with total sales of $362 million.
Volume gains were seen in 12 of the top 20 categories, including double-digit growth for broccoli and watermelon. Organic celery posted the largest decline in volume (down 21 percent), followed by peaches (–16 percent) and packaged salads (–6.4 percent). Bananas remained the largest volume category.
Geographically, every region saw year-over-year increases in dollar sales, with the South showing the largest gain at 4 percent. The West region was the only area to see a decrease in volume and an increase in price per pound.
The Q3 2023 Organic Produce Performance Report covers food sales in the U.S., including all outlets (i.e., supermarkets, mass merchandisers, club stores, dollar stores, convenience stores, and military commissaries) for 13 weeks of 2023 (7/02-9/30) compared to the same period last year. The report is available here.