The Organic Trade Association (OTA) recently published a report that says Americans are buying more organic fruits and vegetables than ever before. In fact, more than half of all households in the United States now purchase organic produce, the report says.
The sale of organic bananas alone—now a $165 million market—soared by more than 30 percent last year. Organic “value-added” vegetables, such as chopped kale, peeled carrots and ready-to-cook squash, grew by a whopping 54 percent in 2015 to nearly $150 million.
“The organic produce market is growing and strong, and it is driving trends in produce innovation across the board,” said Laura Batcha, executive director and CEO of the OTA at the first-ever Organic Produce Summit, held in Monterey, California.
The inaugural sold-out event—July 13-14—attracted more than 500 attendees representing every facet of the organic produce industry, and included a trade show with more than 70 exhibits from leading organic fresh fruit and vegetable producers. The event showcased the booming $13 billion organic fresh produce marketplace.
The $13 billion market includes $5.7 billion worth of organic produce sold in the mass market (supermarkets, big-box stores, warehouse clubs), $4.7 billion sold by specialty and natural retailers, and $2.7 billion in direct sales (farmers’ markets, CSAs, online). Nielsen measures organic sales primarily from the mass market, and puts organic produce sales at $5.5 billion. The Nielsen figures do not include specialty and natural retailers nor direct sales. Further, Nielsen’s data reflect grocery coding systems, which are based on retailer description and in which organic can be underrepresented.
The Nielsen figures do, however, delve down to the specific types of organic vegetable or organic fruit sold, providing detailed information on the buying habits of consumers in the major category of supermarkets and big-box stores.
Since 2011, sales of produce in this country have increased more than 25 percent. Organic fruit sales have soared 123 percent during that time, while organic vegetable sales have jumped by 92 percent.
What’s big in the organic produce sector? A few standouts in the produce section, in addition to bananas:
Organic blackberries: Sales up 61 percent from a year ago.
Organic salad greens and baby carrots: Sales of each up 11 percent vs. a year ago.
Organic Pink Lady Apples: Sales almost double (up 96 percent) that of a year ago.