Fresh Produce Sales at Retail are Up About 25 Percent

Fresh Produce Sales at Retail are Up About 25 Percent

Fresh produce retail sales were up 22 percent for the week ending April 26, compared to the same time a year ago.

The market research company IRI reports demand for fresh produce is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. During the last week of April fresh vegetable sales were up 30.4 percent, while fresh fruit sales jumped 16.2 percent.

The numbers represent a substantial jump over the previous week, which was competing with the week of Easter in 2019. It also means the highest figures since the end of the demand peak in the middle of March.

A report by 210 Analytics, IRI and the Produce Marketing Association also points out sales of frozen and shelf-stable produce remain highly elevated, being up 57.6 percent and 46.3 percent respectively.

IRI reports the numbers very clearly show higher everyday demand is being driven by in-home consumption and it is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

As the market is adjusting to the new era of COVID-19, some lingering issues remain with the supply chain. Then there is the totally new shopping arena affecting everything from the demand for products to having to find new ways to drive impulse buying.

The top three growth items in the U.S. in terms of absolute dollar gains over the same week in 2019 were berries (+$35 million), lettuce (+$29 million) and potatoes, (+$24 million).

However, at the category level, significant differences continue existing between dollars and volume, driven by deflationary pressure. With fruit, there were big decreases in price per volume for items such as avocados (-16.1 percent), grapes (-12.5 percent) and tangelos (-9.9 percent) the week ending April 26.

Concerning vegetables, onions had a strong 37.3 percent increase in dollars. However volume sales were up 55.1 percent, with the retail price per volume down more than 11 percent.

Other produce items with large decreases in the price per volume were celery (-24.8 percent), peppers (-12.6 percent) and Brussels sprouts (-6.6 percent).

There was an opposite affect for other items, especially potatoes, with dollar sales still going strong, at +50.8 percent, and volume up 38.7 percent. Retail potato prices were 8.8 percent higher versus the same week a year ago.

As for fruit, the top 10 items in terms of dollar sales saw flat sales for two items (grapes and melons) but double-digit increases for seven.

Oranges continue a hot streak with another terrific 71 percent gain versus year ago. Highlighting nutritional benefits, particularly Vitamin C, in many other fruits and vegetables may benefit sales in weeks to come.