Organic fruits and vegetables continue to lead the department’s growth, a new study finds.

The United Fresh Produce Association’s FreshFacts on Retail 2016 review released in late February reports 2016 organic produce sales hit $4.46 billion, a 13% increase from 2015. 

FreshFacts says organic sales account for 9% of all fresh produce dollars and 30% of fresh produce growth. 

In addition, organic shoppers make eight more trips to the grocery store each year than other produce shoppers, the report says. It says the top three organic items are packaged salads, berries and apples.

For 2016, total produce sales were up 3.6%, and volume was up 1.5% compared with 2015, according to the report.

The report says value-added fruits and vegetable sales topped $4 billion in 2016, but fewer than 50% of households buy them. Value-added fruit sales were up 8.3% in 2016, while value-added vegetable sales saw gains of 8.7%.

The report features in-depth looks on berries, avocados and grapes. 

For instance, branded grapes increased sales 14% and now account for 20% of dollars in the category, even though 2016 was a challenging year for the category because of supply problems. 

And 2016 retail avocado sales were up 8.6%, but again supply shortages limited volume gains for the category to just 1.8%, the report says.

Produced in partnership with Nielsen Fresh and sponsored by Del Monte Fresh Produce FreshFacts is available online free to United Fresh members and for $50 to non-members.

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