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OPN Shares ‘State of Organic Produce’ Report

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The performance of organic produce categories ranged widely last year, according to the “State of Organic Produce 2022,” a report released Feb. 22 by the Organic Produce Network.

The 72-page report provides an overall view of organic produce retail performance in 2022, as well as insights into the top 20 organic produce categories.

While total organic produce sales increased by 3 percent and volume decreased by 3.7 percent year over year, the performance of the top 20 categories varied as inflation and other pressures created a dynamic market environment.

The best performers in terms of year-over-year sales increases were onions, cucumbers and potatoes, while the worst performers were lettuce, celery and bell peppers.

On the volume side, the best-performing organic commodities year over year were grapes, herbs and spices and cucumbers, while the weakest were lettuce, avocados and apples.

The three bottom year-over-year volume performers all had contributing factors beyond inflation.

Lettuce suffered aphid pressure in the desert due to warmer temperatures in quarters one and two and was later dealt a blow by impatiens necrotic spot virus in the Salinas Valley in the fall/early winter.

Avocados had a lower-than-normal volume out of Mexico in the first half of the year and apple supply was impacted by a very small Washington crop.

When it came to the top spot by total retail sales, berries took the lead, edging out packaged salads with $1.561 billion in sales (packaged salad sales totaled $1.556 billion).

Bananas held on to their spot as the top volume mover with nearly 509 million pounds sold at retail in 2022.

The “State of Organic Produce 2022” report also explores the 20 leading categories by their regional performance, which varied in certain circumstances.

An example was organic celery, which lost year-over-year volume in every region except in the West where it had a gain of 26.7 percent, suggesting perhaps that the organic celery juicing trend is far more popular there than in the other three regions.

Another example involved organic fresh herbs and spices, which declined in volume in the Northeast by 9.4 percent yet posted a 19.7 percent increase in the West. 

In terms of year-over-year performance that was consistent across the US, onions were a prime example as they enjoyed double-digit sales gains in all four regions, which makes sense given their staple-veg status.

Packaged salads, an organic produce mainstay, declined in volume by mid-single digits and increased in sales by low single digits, reflecting the performance of the overall category.

For more insights into last year’s organic produce performance, the “State of Organic Produce 2022” report can be found here.

To read more produce news from The Shelby Report, click here.

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