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Value-Added, Organic Produce on the Rise

WASHINGTON — Produce volume sales may be down overall, but customers continue to embrace  organic and value-added produce categories.

For the fourth quarter of 2011, organic produce “posted double-digit dollar growth and positive volume growth,” compared to the fourth quarter of 2010, according to FreshFacts on Retail, a quarterly report published by the United Fresh Foundation in partnership with Nielson Perishables Group and sponsored by Del Monte Fresh Produce.

The report also noted that organic apples were the most purchased organic fruit, with volume and dollar sales increasing 24%. For the vegetable category, organic packaged salad held the top spot with a 13% increase in dollar and volume sales.

Customers are turning to healthy convenience. Value-added produce — produce that’s been cut or prepared for faster cooking — had a 7% bump in dollars and volume last quarter.

Overall produce retail prices, up 4.6% since last year, could be contributing to the 1.2% volume decline in volume sales from 2010. Weekly dollar sales increased 3.3% due to price increases.

For more on value-added produce, see SN’s feature story “Convenience Culture” in the March 5 print issue of SN.

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