Retailers invested in fruit prices in August as the average price per pound for fruit decreased by 2.1 percent over year-ago levels, according to the monthly report produced by Circana, 210 Analytics and the International Fresh Produce Association.
August produce sales
The five August weeks generated $74.3 billion total food and beverage sales, up 1.7 percent over August 2022, though unit sales trailed behind.
Perishables, including produce, seafood, meat, bakery and deli, had a below-average dollar growth performance (down 0.5 percent) but this was entirely prompted by the different levels of inflation as illustrated by the better-than-average unit performance ( down 1.3 percent versus 2.7 percent for center-store grocery).
August fresh produce sales reached $7.5 billion.
“While the dollar growth is slowing, fresh produce performance is outpacing that of total food and beverages as well as frozen and canned,” Watson said.
Absent of any major national holidays, the August weeks were all similar in performance. Weekly fresh produce sales averaged around $1.5 billion and both the year-over-year dollar and pound comparisons were steady.
Fresh produce dollars versus volume
Produce dollar sales growth has been in the plus since the third quarter of 2021. Produce pounds, on the other hand, have mostly tracked behind as shoppers leveraged how much they purchased as a way to save.
Volume sales exceeded year-ago levels for the first time in April. July was the second time this year when produce pounds moved above year ago levels and August marks the third win of the year.
The investment in price on the fruit side paid off in large volume gains of 2.2 percent over August 2022. Vegetables kept pounds flat.
Fresh fruit sales
“The absolute reign of berries continued in August,” Watson said. “The five August weeks generated $815 million in berry sales alone, with substantial dollar and pound gains.
“Seasonal powerhouse cherries continued to trend in the top 10 with $178 million in sales, which was down in dollars as retailers upped their promotional investment, but flat in pounds.”
Other fruits with increased volume sales were melons, avocados and pineapples.
Fresh vegetable sales
“The dollar and pound performance among the top 10 vegetable sellers was all over the board,” Parker said. “Potatoes remain a remarkable story in that pound sales increased despite the higher prices seen in this year.
“This boosted potato sales above tomatoes in August, with lettuce in third place.”
Other vegetables with year-over-year pound increases were onions, peppers and cucumbers.
Read more produce news from The Shelby Report.