Produce Consumption is Up in New Report; South Carolina Peach Disaster is Recounted

Produce Consumption is Up in New Report; South Carolina Peach Disaster is Recounted

DSCN0045In a  new report consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables has risen significantly since November 2008 compared with processed fruits and vegetables.  Meanwhile, a look back is taken of the disastrous season in South Carolina for peach shipments.

Wells Fargo reports consumption of fresh fruits has grown 16.2 percent and consumption of fresh vegetables has grown 20.6 percent, compared to processed fruits and vegetables, which grew 9.9 percent during the same time period. The report said processed fruits and vegetables are sold in the freezer aisle and as canned goods, according to the report by Eugenio J. Aleman, senior economist for company.

Consumers have “rationally reacted to much higher prices on the processed side in relation to the fresh side,” Aleman said in a story published recently by the Wall Street Journal. “In relative terms, fresh fruits and vegetables are cheaper today than processed fruits and vegetables are.”

Fresh fruit and vegetable prices were trending upward leading into the 2008 recession and have remained relatively static since.  However, prices for processed fruits and vegetables are higher now than at any time before the recession.

Acknowledging it is difficult to know whether price-consciousness or health-consciousness is driving the increase in consumption, the study notes younger consumers especially have shifted more toward fresh food consumption.  For those under 40 years old, fresh vegetable consumption has increased by 52 percent over the last 10 years.

However, a decrease in price for processed produce could have consumers looking more toward their pocketbooks than their health.

Titan Peach Shipments

Titan Farms in Ridge Spring, SC, the largest peach grower on the East Coast, suffered a $30 million loss when temperatures dropped to 17 and 22 degrees March 15 and 16, according to Daryl Johnston, vice president for sales and marketing.  He said Titan lost 80 to 85 percent of its peach crop to the freeze.

This includes 6,100 acres of peaches in production stretching over 100 square miles in three counties.  Titan normally grows more peaches than the entire state of Georgia, “the Peach State.”

Looking back, Titan was loading 12 truckloads of peaches in mid July, when it would normally pack 100 to 150 truckloads at the height of the season.  The peach shipper lost all but 10 to 15 percent of its crop.

Since 2001, Titan has increased peach acreage by 400 percent.