Posts Tagged “organic produce”
by Carol Bareuther, PerishableNews.com
Seasonal fruits, emerging specialty vegetables, convenience or pre-cooked ingredients and chile peppers are the four hottest produce trends in 2017, according to Robert Schueller, director of public relations at Melissa’s World Variety Produce, a specialty produce purveyor based in Los Angeles. Schueller should know. He’s 20-plus year industry veteran and Melissa’s is the leading distributor of more than 1,200 specialty and organic produce products in the United States, selling nationwide and to the top 20 U.S. retailers. In fact, Schueller’s trends report for 2017 is based off sales of the company’s produce in the marketplace for the 365 days ending October 18, 2017 compared to the year prior. The produce items that had the largest percentage of increased distribution at retail and foodservice is what created the four trends categories.
1) Seasonal Fruits:
* Green Dragon Apples. Schueller calls sales of this sweet non-tart cross between a Golden Delicious and Indo variety from Japan one of the biggest trends in specialty fruit. This yellow skin apple doesn’t store well and is only sold fresh during its short-season from October to December.
* Muscato Grapes. This proprietary variety available July to October from the United States and February and March from Peru, is notable for its high brix or sugar content of 22 compared to 16 for the average grape.
* Winter/Christmas Crunch Grapes. October to December harvested California-grown fruit extends the season from the customary May to September. These are packaged for seasonal merchandising.
* Passion Fruit. Nearly all distribution in the United States is the purple-skin variety, sourced nearly year-round from Florida and California as well as New Zealand. A short supply gap occurs in December and January.
* Jackfruit. New-found interest stems from use of the fruit’s fiber as a vegetarian protein substitute. Eye-catching to sell whole at retail due to its size, more convenient pre-cut jackfruit as a product is currently challenged by short-shelf life issues.
* Rambutan. Closely related to the lychee, this fruit is now available almost year-round multisourced from Central America and Hawaii.
2) Emerging Specialty Vegetables:
* Organic Ginger. Now its annual availability, rather than for only six months, is driving sales.
* Turmeric. Interest in East Indian cuisine, as a substitute for ginger in juicing and its health benefits has sparked recent sales of this spice. Turmeric was the top trending functional food according to the report, ˜Think with Google: Food Trends 2016.”
* Pee Wee Potatoes. Once composted for not meeting grade size, the marble-size of these potatoes is now in demand for its short cooking time.
* Tatuma Squash. Similar in appearance to zucchini, this squash’s staple use in Latin cooking drives its placement in-store.
* Indian Eggplant. A tomato-sized version of a traditional globe eggplant, attributes are an edible skin and short cooking time.
* Tomatillo Milpero. Baby vegetables are big, and this bite-sized tomatillo is riding this trend.
* Petite Baby Bok Choy. This product leads sales in the Asian ethnic category, and demand has become cross-cultural. The small size means no chopping required.
* White Asparagus. Labor intensive to grow since it must be protected from sunlight-producing chlorophyll that customarily colors this vegetable green, white asparagus is more expensive to produce yet is finding widespread favor from fine dining chefs.
3) Convenience / Pre-Cooked Ingredients:
Technology in France not yet introduced to the United States enabled Melissa’s to introduce its steamed line of vegetables 13 years ago with beets first, followed by lentils. The idea is to take items with relatively long prep times, pre-cook and package ready to eat with a preservative-free shelf life of two months. New this year, the company has added Gold Baby Beets, Organic Steamed Lentils and Parisienne Potatoes.
4) Chile Peppers:
* Shishito Peppers. This kid-friendly pepper is all about flavor rather than heat, says Schueller. Popular in Japanese restaurants where its roasted and seasoned with sesame oil and served as an appetizer.
* Hatch Chiles. The mountainous 4,000-feet plus elevation and near 50-degree difference between day and nighttime temperatures in Hatch, NM, produces this thick, meaty, mild-tasting chile. Popularity beyond the Southwest and a short August to September season stems from the pepper’s ability to be roasted, frozen and used all year long.
* Thai Chiles. Small and hot, with a heat-rating between a jalapeno and habanero, this chile first loved in Asian cuisine is now cross-cultural thanks to finding favor in Latin dishes.
New data is shedding light on where increased U.S. per capita consumption is coming from with fruit. Also, organic produce continues to show increasing popularity
Apples, some citrus varieties, blueberries and tropical fruit, have given a boost to U.S. fresh fruit per capita use, which grew a strong 3 percent in 2016.
The USDA’s fruit yearbook report revealed that total fresh fruit per capita consumption in 2016 was rated at 116.05 pounds, up 3 percent from 112.5 pounds in 2015.
2016 fresh citrus per capita use rose 6 percent to 24.02 pounds, up from 22.73 pounds in 2016. Fresh non-citrus per capita use was pegged at 92.03 pounds, 2 percent higher than 89.81 pounds in 2015.
2016 per capita use of fresh fruit commodities, with percent changed compared with 2015:
- Lemons, 4.15 pounds (+15%);
- Limes, 3.48 pounds (+15%);
- Mangoes, 2.96 (+14%);
- Blueberries, 1.77 pounds (+10%);
- Papayas, 1.43 pounds (+8%);
- Apples, 18.55 pounds (+7%);
- Oranges, 9.17 pounds (+6%);
- Pineapples, 7.28 pounds (+4%);
- Strawberries, 8.03 pounds (+4%);
- Pears, 2.76 (+4%);
- Grapes, 8.08 pounds (+3%);
- Tangerines, 5.28 pounds (+1%);
- Avocados, 7.08 pounds (-2%);
- Bananas, 27.55 pounds (-2%);
- Peaches, 2.86 (-5%); and
- Grapefruit, 1.94 pounds (-13%)
Study Shows Growth of Organics
A Nielsen Co. study shows organic produce grew 9 percent in dollars year-over-year and represented a 10 percent share of total produce as of last summer.
Consumers are said to be buying larger packages of organic berries, instead of smaller containers such as pints. Increase they are buying more 18-ounce to 2-pound containers.
Prepackaged salads continue to lead organic sales, with 3 percent year-on-year growth in 2017.
Consumers continue to seek out healthy meal alternatives such as kale, colored carrots, green cabbage and broccoli, with a mix of flavors and textures. Lettuce and berries continue to dominate the organic sales, combining for nearly a 30 percent sales increase in the U.S.
Apples and spinach are the next largest organic categories, with 9 and 8 pecent of sales.
Overall, only 14 categories make up 80 percent of organic produce sales, compared to 20 categories within the conventional space.
Such commodities as limes, cherries, beets, avocados, beans and lemons had 20 to 30 percent growth over the previous year, even though those items account for only 4 pecent of organic produce sales.
Larger categories also are growing. Among those, organic berries grew 29 percent year over year. Blackberries and blueberries are growing at a quicker rate (46 and 35 percent, respectively) than strawberries (26 percent). Organic bananas and apples are also growing, at 18 and 12 percent, respectively.
In Washington state, there is projected to be 50 percent more organic apples over the next season, an increase another 100 percent over the next two years. Apples are considered one of the easier crops to grow organically.
Organic produce in various categories continues to show significant growth in popularity.
According to FreshFacts on Retail, published by the United Fresh Produce Association for the third-quarter of 2016, weekly dollar sales of organic vegetables per store were up 7.6 percent compared to the third quarter of 2015. Dollar sales of organic fruit were up 17.5 percent.
Organic Attitudes and Beliefs 2016 published by The Organic Trade Association found over 82 percent of American families say they buy organic sometimes, one of the highest levels in the survey’s seven-year history.
Almost 5 percent of all the food sold in the U.S. in 2015 was organic.
Suppliers of organic produce were reporting sizeable increases.
Naturipe Farms LLC of Salinas, CA, the world’s larger produce of organic blueberries, doubling its production of organic blueberries in Argentina and Chile.
This month the company is producing its first crops of organic raspberries, blackberries and blueberries from Mexico and is investing in new production of organic strawberries, blueberries and blackberries in California and Florida.
Well-Pict Inc. of Watsonville started its new spring crop of strawberries from Ventura County, CA in mid-January, and will be shipping into spring.
Boskovich Farms Inc., of Oxnard, CA ships a number of organic vegetables led by kale, then Brussels sprouts, green onions and celery.
Stemilt Growers LLC, Wenatchee, WA is shipping organic apples and pears, with approximately 10 percent of it apple shipments coming from organic apples with galas, Honeycrisp, and granny smith among the top varieties.
CMI Orchards LLC in Wenatchee, WA has organic shipments that are up about 50 percent, with the trend expected to continue for the next four years. More acreage is being transitioned from conventional to organic. CMI offers 15 organic apple varieties and six organic pear varieties.
Viva Tierra Organic Inc., Sedro-Woolley, WA is handling organic apple supplies from Argentina and Chile that started earlier this month, in addition to its organic supply from Washington.
by Organic Trade Association
Americans are gobbling up more organic fruits and vegetables than ever before, from organic blueberries and organic apples to organic packaged greens and cut-up organic vegetables ready for their children’s lunch box or their family’s dinner plate.
Over half of all households in the United States now purchase organic produce. The sale of organic bananas alone – now a $165 million market – soared by more than 30 percent last year. Organic “value-added” vegetables (think chopped kale, peeled carrots and ready-to-cook squash) grew by a whopping 54 percent in 2015 to almost $150 million.
What’s big in the organic produce sector? A few standouts in the produce section:
- Organic bananas: Sales up a solid 33 percent from a year ago.
- Organic blackberries: Sales up a sharp 61 percent from a year ago.
- Organic salad greens and organic baby carrots: Sales of each up 11 percent versus a year ago.
- Organic Pink Lady Apples: Sales almost double (up 96 percent) that of a year ago.
“The organic produce market is growing and strong, and it is driving trends in produce innovation across the board,” said Laura Batcha, Executive Director and CEO of the Organic Trade Association (OTA) recently at the first-ever Organic Produce Summit, held in Monterey, California.
Digging deep into the produce aisle, Batcha gave a State of the Organic Produce presentation on Thursday, unveiling the findings of a report on the produce-buying habits of Americans compiled for the Organic Trade Association by Nielsen, the global information and measurement company.
According to the OTA 2016 Organic Industry Survey released in May, fresh organic produce sales in the U.S. reached $13 billion in 2015. (Total sales of organic fruits and vegetables, including fresh, frozen and canned, amounted to $14.4 billion.) The $13-billion market includes $5.7 billion worth of organic produce sold in the mass market (supermarkets, big-box stores, warehouse clubs), $4.7 billion sold by specialty and natural retailers, and $2.7 billion in direct sales (farmers’ markets, CSAs, online).
Nielsen measures organic sales primarily from the mass market, and puts organic produce sales at $5.5 billion. The Nielsen figures do not include specialty and natural retailers, nor direct sales. Further, Nielsen’s data reflect grocery coding systems, which are based on retailer description and in which organic can be under-represented.
The Nielsen figures, however, delve down to the specific types of organic vegetable or organic fruit sold, providing detailed information on the buying habits of consumers in the major category of supermarkets and big-box stores.
Since 2011, the sales of produce in this country have increased over 25 percent. Convenience, a greater awareness of the health benefits of produce, and an increased interest in local food sources largely contributed to the increase. And driven by the desire to improve upon already healthy food choices, organic fruit sales have soared 123 percent during that time, while organic vegetable sales have jumped by 92 percent.
The U.S. organic industry saw its largest dollar gain ever in 2015, adding $4.2 billion in sales. Total organic food sales in the U.S. were $39.7 billion, up 11 percent from the previous year. Organic produce sales accounted for 36 percent of the organic market. Almost 13 percent of all the produce sold in the United States now is organic.
The Nielsen findings showed that today’s organic produce shopper tends to be more kid-focused than the average produce shopper, and that the huge majority of these enthusiastic organic produce buyers – 77 percent – are going to their favorite grocery store or supermarket chain to buy their organic fruits and vegetables.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. OTA is the leading voice for the organic trade in the United States, representing over 8,500 organic businesses across 50 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA’s mission is to promote and protect ORGANIC with a unifying voice that serves and engages its diverse members from farm to marketplace.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistic Service’s 2014 Organic Survey, recently released, analyzes data from the 2012 Census of Agriculture. About 3.7 million acres of land had organic products in 2012, 687,000 of them in industry leader California.
Of the 14,093 certified or exempt U.S. farms, 2,805 were in California.
The value of U.S. organic agricultural products in 2012 was $5.5 billion, according to the report. California accounted for about $2.2 billion of that total. About 164,403 acres of organic vegetables, potatoes and melons worth $1.25 billion were harvested in 2012.
Organic grape production totaled 98,805 tons and was worth about $188 million. About 563 million pounds of organic apples, worth $250 million, were produced in 2012. In the “other fruit, nuts and berries” category, about 3,523 farms produced $579 million worth of product in 2012.
The trend is not restricted to any particular region.
“[Organic] doesn’t have any demographic boundaries,” Organic Trade Association (OTA) Chief Executive Laura Batcha said, according to the Washington Business Journal. “This additional new data [shows] it doesn’t have regional or partisan boundaries.”
Leading the organic pack is produce. Organic fruits and vegetables reigned in about $13 billion in 2014, making up more than 36 percent of all organic food sales.
The growth has resulted in the USDA creating a new database to make it possible for sumers to track companies to organic certifications, according to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“The more diverse type of operations and the more growing market sectors we have in American agriculture, the better off our country’s rural economy will be,” Vilsack said, according to The Times-Picayune,while anticipating a positive impact on agriculture.
The OCT also found that organic produce in stores has doubled in the last decade, now occupying 12 percent of all produce available in the aisles. This could be in direct response to demand, as the association also reported that the majority of American households nationwide now endeavor to make organic food purchases while shopping retail, the Washington Business Journal reports.
Because of stable volume and higher pricing, retail fresh produce sales in 2013 were up 4.8 percent, according to the review edition of the United FreshFacts on Retail Report. The United Fresh Produce Association report, produced in partnership with the Nielsen Perishables Group and sponsored by Del Monte Fresh Produce, showed annual trends for top fruits, vegetables, value-added produce and organic commodities.
A strong year in 2013 was enjoyed by organic produce, with sales gains of near 20 percent for both organic fruits and vegetables compared with 2012. Fruits saw strong sales gains in 2013 includingd avocados (11.7 percent), specialty produce (11.5 percent), citrus (8.9 percent) and apples (6.5 percent).
The highest sales gains with vegetables in 2013 were cucumbers (7.8 percent), cooking vegetables (7 percent), packaged salad (6.7 percent) and onions (6.5 percent). Volume gains for fruits in 2013 were topped by avocados (10.3 percent), stone fruit (5.1 percent), citrus (3,3 percent) and apples (2.4 percent).
The top gains in volume for vegetables included peppers (3.9 percent), packaged salad (3.8 percent), and carrots (1.7 percent).
Highlights for 2013 in the report include: produce department sales averaged $47,000 per week per store, up 4.8 percent from 2012; volume sales declined for four of the top 10 vegetable categories; value-added vegetables posted an increase of 15 percent in weekly dollar sales; fresh-cut fruit sales increased 13.2 percent; organic fruit volume up 17.8 percent compared with 2012; and organic vegetable volume 14.2 percent higher than 2012.
“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.