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2019 retail sales of organic fruits and vegetables grew twice as fast as sales of conventional produce, according to a new study on organic sales.

Growing at slightly more than 5% in 2019, retail organic produce sales in 2019 compared with 2% growth for conventional fruits and vegetables, according to the 2019 Organic Produce Performance Report released by the Organic Produce Network and Category Partners.

Volume growth of organic fruits and vegetables moved at retail in 2019 totaled 4.6%, according to a news release, compared with less than 1% volume growth for conventional produce.

The report was created using Nielsen retail can data covering total food sales and outlets in the U.S., according to the release.

“Organic growth in retail produce departments continues to be strong,” Matt Seeley, CEO of the Organic Produce Network, said in the release. “Last year, sales of organic fruits and vegetables established a new record, hitting $5.8 billion in retail sales. The rate of growth has slowed slightly from previous years, but there is every reason to believe that the growth of organic fruits and vegetables will continue to outpace conventional products.”

The report showed that Northeast U.S. retail sales grew 6.3%, tops among all regions. At 5.7%, the West region showed the second best growth, followed by 4.7% growth in the South and 3% growth in the Midwest region.

A key to creating bigger future retail sales is broadening the range of organic commodities, Steve Lutz, senior vice president of Insights and Innovation at Category Partners, said in the release.

“What we see in the Nielsen data is that organic produce at retail is concentrated within fewer categories than conventional produce,“ Lutz said in the release. “The top 10 organic categories in produce drive nearly 70% of volume. These same categories contribute only 53% to total volume in conventional.” 

The scan data indicated top performers for generating organic sales in 2019 were packaged salads and berries, with packaged salads accounting for almost 20% of total retail organic sales and the combined berry category (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry) adding another 15%.

Bananas, carrots and apples drive 41% of total organic volume, according to the release.

“The top 10 organic categories drive 61% percent of total dollars versus only 38% percent in conventional,” Lutz said in the release.

Seeley said in the release that the data points to strong organic opportunity for producers and retailers. 

“It’s clear that capturing future growth will require that the mix of organic volume be spread across a broader base of products,” Seeley said in the release. 

“As supermarkets increase organic assortment, expand shelf sets, and improve the visibility of organics at retail level, we believe the data shows consumer purchases will follow.”

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