MONTEREY, CA - Year-over-year growth continues in the organic sector, as the Organic Produce Network and Category Partners recently released the Q3 2021 Organic Produce Performance Report. The report outlines a three percent rise in sales over the same period in 2020, weighing in at nearly $2.3 billion for the quarter.
“The good news is Q3, 2021 continued to generate year over year growth in organic produce sales despite the Q3, 2020 comp period driven by pandemic buying behavior,” said Steve Lutz, Senior Vice President of Insights and Innovation at Category Partners. “It is encouraging to note that even though consumer purchases of conventional produce were lower than Q3 of last year, organic produce continues to generate growth—an indication that the longer-term trend of consumers moving toward organic produce continues to grow as organic’s share of the market rises.”
According to a press release, the third quarter of 2021 generated growth in organic fresh produce sales at retail. This is despite a comp period in Q3 of 2020 that was highlighted by pandemic-driven shopping, which continued to distort traditional consumer purchasing behavior. Organic dollar sales rose by 3.4 percent compared to Q3 of last year, totaling $2.291 billion for the quarter. Organic volume grew by 1.6 percent in Q3 of 2021 compared to the same period last year. By contrast, conventionally grown produce sales grew by 1.3 percent, while volume declined 2.3 percent compared to Q3 of 2020.
The organic berry category, including strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, was the number one organic segment in dollar sales for Q3 of 2021, with an 11 percent increase in dollar growth over the same period last year and topping $407 million for the quarter. The berry category also saw volume growth, up 7.3 percent compared to Q3 of 2020. Apples showed the largest sales dollar increase, up 12.7 percent from the same period last year. Lettuce, up 6.3 percent; citrus, up 5.7 percent; and bananas, up 3.8 percent, delivered volume gains, with packaged salad volume down slightly by 0.8 percent for the quarter. Three categories—berries, apples, and packaged salads—accounted for 85 percent of all organic fresh produce dollar growth in Q3 of 2021.
The top 10 organic produce categories named show mixed results in both sales and volume for the second quarter of 2021, with berries, apples, packaged salads, lettuce, bananas, and carrots registering sales dollar gains, while herbs, tomatoes, citrus, and potatoes showed modest declines. Berries were also the star performer in volume growth, joining bananas, apples, onions, citrus, and lettuce in gains for the quarter.
Organic performance was weakest in the northeast region this quarter, where dollars grew 3.8 percent on stronger pricing and volume fell by 1.5 percent. All other regions showed modest dollar and volume increases from the same period last year. Overall organic performance was strongest in the south, where dollar sales jumped by 4.7 percent, and volume increased by 3.4 percent.
The Q3 2021 Organic Produce Performance Report utilized Nielsen retail scan data covering total food sales and outlets in the U.S. over the months of July, August, and September. The full report is available here.
We at ANUK continue to ask whether these upward trends will remain long-term, and we will keep you informed as we learn more.