Organic Growth Doubles Conventional in 2019, Study Reports

Organic Growth Doubles Conventional in 2019, Study Reports

Organic fruits and vegetables grew twice as fast as sales of conventional produce, according to a new study on 2019 retail organic sales.

With growth over 5 percent last year, retail organic produce sales compared with 2 percent growth for conventional fruits and vegetables. The study is a result of the 2019 Organic Produce Performance Report released by the Organic Produce Network and Category Partners.

Retail volume growth in 2019 of organic fruits and vegetables amounted to 4.6 percent, according to a news release, compared with less than 1 percent volume growth for conventional produce.

The report was created using Nielsen retail scan data covering total food sales and outlets in the U.S.

“Organic growth in retail produce departments continues to be strong,” Matt Seeley, CEO of the Organic Produce Network, said in the release. “Last year, sales of organic fruits and vegetables established a new record, hitting $5.8 billion in retail sales. The rate of growth has slowed slightly from previous years, but there is every reason to believe that the growth of organic fruits and vegetables will continue to outpace conventional products.”

The report showed that Northeast U.S. retail sales grew 6.3 percent, tops among all regions. At 5.7 percent, the West region showed the second best growth, followed by 4.7 percent growth in the South and 3 percent growth in the Midwest region.

A key to creating bigger future retail sales is broadening the range of organic commodities, Steve Lutz, senior vice president of Insights and Innovation at Category Partners, said in the release.

“What we see in the Nielsen data is that organic produce at retail is concentrated within fewer categories than conventional produce,“ Lutz said in the release. “The top 10 organic categories in produce drive nearly 70 percent of volume. These same categories contribute only 53 percent to total volume in conventional.”

The scan data indicated top performers for generating organic sales in 2019 were packaged salads and berries, with packaged salads accounting for almost 20 percent of total retail organic sales and the combined berry category (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry) adding another 15 percent.

Bananas, carrots and apples accounted for 41 percent of total organic volume.

“The top 10 organic categories drive 61 percent of total dollars versus only 38 percent percent in conventional,” Lutz said.