Watermelon led the value-added produce category in the third quarter with $239 million in sales, a 16.5% increase from the same period in 2018.
The juicy fruit took the top spot by a wide margin, with 101 million pounds sold, up 7.1% from 2018, according to the latest FreshFacts on Retail report from the United Fresh Produce Association. The average retail price for value-added watermelon was up 8.8% from the same time last year, to $2.37. That increase was the largest for any item in the top 10.
The next largest categories in value-added were mixed fruit ($155 million) and mixed vegetables ($102 million), with volume growth of 2.4% and 5.2%, respectively. The average retail price for mixed fruit in the quarter was $4.25, while for mixed vegetables the average was $3.87. Those average prices were both up roughly 2% from the third quarter last year.
The only other category approaching $100 million in value-added sales for the quarter was pineapple, with $96 million, up 7.5% from the same period in 2018. Average price was up 4.6%.
Along with watermelon, the two value-added categories that saw big volume growth were celery and broccoli.
Celery saw by far the largest volume jump, with sales growing 26.2% to 13 million pounds. Dollar sales jumped 19% to $28 million. The average retail price for value-added celery was $2.11, down 5.7% from the third quarter in 2018.
Value-added broccoli also performed well, growing volume 9.5% to 20 million pounds and seeing sales increase 11.7% to $58 million. Average retail price was $2.89, up 2% from 2018.