The Organic Produce Network (OPN) has released an informational analysis that indicates organic produce had a strong first quarter for 2018. Using marketing research from Nielson, OPN evaluated the sales of organic fresh produce and found significant growth compared to 2017.
Packaged salads continued to lead the way for organic vegetable sales, representing 19 percent of all sales of organic fresh produce. However, organic packaged salads only showed marginal growth in terms of volume and value compared to the first quarter of 2017, with increases little over three percent.
Organic berries, which includes strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, experienced the largest growth in value and volume over the same period in 2017. Organic berry sales increased over 21 percent in dollar amount and grew by more than 26 percent in volume in the first quarter of 2018. The berry category represents more than 13 percent of organic sales.
Organic apples were the third largest seller during the first part of 2018 and saw an increase of nearly five percent in value from last year and growth of more than nine percent. The top three categories of organic fresh produce being packaged salads, berries, and apples, collectively accounted for 40 percent of all sales.
Overall, organic vegetables showed a higher value than organic fruit for the first quarter. Vegetables were valued at $632 million, whereas fruit was valued at $400 million. The Nielsen figures showed the organic produce sector had a sales value of more than $1.2 billion during the first portion of 2018.
While organic sales and production grew during the first part of 2018, OPN noted that several conventionally grown commodities saw flat or declining sales volumes. Nielsen data indicates that over 80 percent of organic produce dollars is derived from UPC items such as packaged salads and berries. Conventional produce, by comparison, shows UPC items only comprise 57 percent of total produce dollars.