The most recent report from the Organic Produce Network (OPN) and Category Partners shows that 2020 is shaping up to be a good year for organics. The May 2020 Organic Produce Performance Report demonstrates another solid month of growth in both value and volume of organic products.
“It’s a great time for organics,” said OPN CEO Matt Seeley. “Organics has truly been a bright spot since the start of COVID really over the past three months where we have seen double-digit growth – March, April, and May –from last year at this same time period.”
Sales of fresh organic produce totaled more than $662 million in May, representing growth of 16.3 percent over 2019. Volume was also up 16.2 percent over the previous year. By comparison, conventional sales increased 18 percent and volume grew by 15.5 percent. Organic bananas were the definitive leader in the category, followed by carrots and apples. One of the factors contributing to the substantial growth of the top three commodities in the organics sector was retail pricing.
“Their prices are relatively comparable to what their conventional counterparts are,” Seeley noted. “So, we don’t see those huge gaps, the disparity in pricing at retail that we used to see. I think that’s another reason why organics continues to grow.”
The organic industry struggled with the same issues the conventional produce industry was challenged by when the COVID-19 pandemic created disruption in the food supply chain. “We’ve overcome that. The supply chain has done a very, very good job from that standpoint,” Seeley explained. “So, I think that going forward I’m cautiously optimistic that the worst is behind us when we look at that kind of challenge that the industry faced.”
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in significantly more retail sales of produce both conventional and organic. While the buying spree may not continue as COVID-19 concerns begin to settle, Seeley expects the future of organics to remain bright as the industry continues to expand. “One of the big opportunities that we see is the development of organic convenience items. Making these items as accessible as possible for consumers,” Seeley noted.