While retail fresh fruit and vegetable sales declined in the first quarter, organic and value-added continued to show growth, according to the latest FreshFacts on Retail Report.

According to the report, dollar sales per store per week declined 1.3% from Q1 2017 compared to Q1 2016 in produce. Within that, fruit was down 0.4% and vegetables 2.9%.

But value-added fruit was up over last year by 2%, and vegetables were up 4.8%. And organic retail produce sales was up, with vegetables showing a 1.2% rise and fruit $15.7% gain on the first quarter of 2016.

We could look at these numbers as good news in that produce marketers and retailers find ways to sell higher value products to eager consumers. Or we could look at the bad news in the falling sales of traditional fruits and vegetables.

But there’s another troubling trend that keeps showing up every time another study registers it: consumption remains flat, even as consumers say they’re trying to eat healthier.

If this were true, we would certainly see fresh produce sales and consumption rise.

This remains one of the biggest problems in the fresh produce industry from grower all the way up to retailer and the nutrition community.

It’s also one not solved by increasing sales of value-added and organic because consumers aren’t eating any more overall fruits and vegetables. Judging by expanding obesity rates, consumers aren’t eating less of other, less healthy foods.

The statistics come from the United Fresh Produce Association’s retail report from the first quarter of 2017, which is available for free online download http://bit.ly/2gJVkMK for United Fresh members and $50 for non-members, and is sponsored by Del Monte Fresh Produce and produced in partnership with Nielsen Fresh.

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