Blueberries, raspberries and broccoli saw the biggest year-over-year gains in dollar sales in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the latest FreshFacts on Retail report by the United Fresh Produce Association.
Blueberry sales grew 12.4% to $333 million, raspberry sales grew 10.9% to $199 million, and broccoli sales grew 11.5% to $249 million.
Nine of the top ten vegetable categories — all except packaged salads — saw higher fourth-quarter dollar sales in 2018.
The report includes a deep dives on grapes, avocados and packaged salads. Packaged salads have the greatest household penetration, with 79% purchasing them, while 70% of households purchase grapes and 50% purchase avocados.
Shoppers on average buy packaged salads on nine trips a year, compared to seven for avocados and six for grapes, per the report. Packaged salads also had by far the highest average annual spend, at $35, compared to $22 for grapes and $17 for avocados.
Overall, grape dollar sales were down 4.4%, to $766 million, in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to the same time frame in 2017. Red grapes saw a major decline, down 13% in dollar sales, with an 18.4% drop in volume. White/green and black/blue grapes saw jumps in volumes and dollar sales.
Avocado sales grew 2% to $579 million as volume increased 24.6%.
“The gold rush may have ended, but the avocado rush continues due to its
heart-healthy and skin-friendly benefits,” United Fresh wrote in the report. “Decreased prices have favored the households looking for healthier alternatives. However, managing supply to ensure availability is crucial for maintaining success.”
Packaged salads brought in $1.2 billion in sales in the fourth quarter of 2018, but sales of salad mix, lettuce and slaw kits fell, while salad kit dollar sales grew 8.8% and spinach grew 2.2%.
Year in review
United Fresh reported that produce accounted for $60.8 billion in sales in 2018, nearly evenly split between fruits and vegetables.
Top fruits like apples, grapes and bananas saw declines in volumes and dollar sales, while avocados, mandarins and berries saw gains. All vegetable categories except for lettuce saw gains for the year as a whole.
“Pre-packaged salads, potatoes and bell peppers propelled the dollar growth of vegetables,” United Fresh wrote in the report. “Consumers are increasingly opting for premium varieties like packaged salads and are ready to pay the price.”
The organization found that value-added produce items continue to increase in popularity, with value-added fruits accounting for 4% of produce sales and value-added vegetables accounting for 2.3%.
Organic produce sales also grew in 2018, totaling $5.6 billion, 8.7% of overall sales.
The full report is available from United Fresh.