Posts Tagged “conventional produce”
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.
“What all this means for parents is that we should stop worrying so much about whether the apples we buy are organic produce or conventional—we should just start giving our kids more apples.” the article concluded. This conclusion is strongly supported by health experts, scientists, and environmental groups.
Featured in the publiction’s article were papers reviewed by peers, government data, interviews with scientists and provided information that may help consumers make better shopping choices for themselves and their families. But once again there were numerous negative comments and social media discussions in response to the content. We have seen this type of response and controversy before and it seems to continue despite general agreement about the safety of organic and conventional produce and that common fear based misconceptions about produce safety can discourage healthier eating.
So there is general agreement that the presentation of science based information to consumers is a positive thing, that generating misguided fears about residues is detrimental to efforts to increase daily consumption of fruits and veggies for better health, and that both organic and conventional produce is safe and we should all be eating more. It seems on the issues of most importance for consumers, there is more agreement than controversy.
By the Alliance for Food and Farming
A new study from Colorado State University (CSU) shows that consumers continue to have concerns about the safety of conventionally grown produce and the government regulatory processes in place to protect public health. Among other findings, the study showed that: “A distrust in regulatory oversight is a key trigger in the valuation for local and organic.” And, consumers generally agreed with the statement that “eating organic lowers health risks.”
These findings are concerning since the body of nutrition science clearly shows that increased consumption of either conventional or organic produce results in better overall health and a longer life. Toxicological analyses also overwhelmingly show the safety of conventional produce – just look at the calculator function and accompanying report on safefruitsandveggies.com as an example. And, the perception that conventional produce is somehow inferior and less safe could have a negative impact on consumption, especially among lower income consumers who may not be able to afford the organic alternative.
Further, the expert panel report commissioned by the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) in 2010 examined the U.S. regulatory system in place to ensure food safety. The panel found: “The U.S. EPA’s current process for evaluating the potential risks of pesticides on food is rigorous and health protective. The EPA’s testing requirements for pesticides used on food are far more extensive than for chemicals in any other use category, and include testing targeted specifically to assess the potential risks to fetuses, infants and children.”
A recent Stanford University nutritional comparison study has generated intense consumer interest about the differences between conventionally and organically grown fruits and vegetables. But, a website – www.safefruitsandveggies.com – was created specifically for consumers who are interested in science based information and perspectives about the safety of both conventional and organic produce.
“The Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) wanted to create an information resource for people so that they can make educated shopping decisions for themselves and their families,” says Marilyn Dolan, Executive Director for the AFF. “We think the information presented on www.safefruitsandveggies.com will reassure consumers that they can choose either organic or conventionally grown products with confidence. The science and the facts support that both production systems are very safe,” Dolan explains.
The www.safefruitsandveggies.com website features information from experts in the fields of toxicology, nutrition, risk analysis, consumer attitudes, organic and conventional pesticide usage trends and farming. “One of the most popular features is the calculator function on the website,” Dolan says. This function allows consumers to click on who they are (man, woman, teenager or child) and then select their favorite fruit or vegetable. The tool then calculates the number of servings you would have to eat in a day and still not see any effect from pesticide residues. “The calculations show a consumer would literally have to eat hundreds to thousands of servings – no matter if you are an adult or a child – and still not see any health impact from pesticide residues,” Dolan adds.
The calculator function and corresponding report was developed using information from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Pesticide Data Program. The USDA’s monitoring data was analyzed by Dr. Robert Krieger, a toxicologist who heads the Personal Chemical Exposure Program at University of California, Riverside. It should be noted that Dr. Krieger was asked to analyze the highest residue levels found by USDA.
Another report “Scared Fat” features new consumer research results concerning how fear based messaging and marketing tactics are actually becoming a barrier to consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables, especially among low income consumers. “The survey showed that almost 10% of low income consumers stated they would reduce consumption of fruits and vegetables after hearing commonly used messaging that calls into question the safety of fruits and vegetables,” Dolan says.
Dolan points out that this month the USDA’s Economic Research Service issued a report that showed 10% of American households were not able to provide their children with “adequate, nutritious” food at times during 2011. “The USDA report illustrates the real issue,” Dolan says. “Low income consumers already struggle to put healthy and nutritious foods on their tables. This is why reassurance that more affordable produce is nutritious and safe is of crucial importance if we are to improve the diets of Americans and lower obesity rates. Misguided safety fears cannot become another barrier to increasing consumption of the very foods that health experts say we should be eating more of,” Dolan explains.
Other popular sections on the website include “Ask the Experts,” which features videos of farmers explaining how they control pests and diseases on their organic and conventional farms, a list of the most popular fruits and veggies with explanations on their nutritional value, regular blog postings and consumer food safety tips.
“These are only a few examples of the information that can be found on www.safefruitsandveggies.com and there is just so much more,” Dolan explains. “We hope safefruitsandveggies.com provides consumers with a place that they can go to read and learn more so they can make educated shopping choices,” Dolan says. “But we also hope that this information helps them to include more fruits and vegetables in their diets with confidence.”
The Alliance for Food and Farming is a non-profit organization formed in 1989 which represents organic and conventional farmers and farms of all sizes. Alliance contributors are limited to farmers of fruits and vegetables, companies that sell, market or ship fruits and vegetables or organizations that represent produce farmers. Our mission is to deliver credible information to consumers about the safety of all fruits and vegetables. We do not engage in lobbying nor do we accept any money or support from the pesticide industry. In the interest of transparency, our entire 2011 tax return is posted on safefruitsandveggies.com.
Source: Alliance for Food and Farming