If you think organic produce is a trend that has plateaued, think again.
The latest Organic Trade Association survey shows organic fresh produce sales continue to rise and at a greater rate as the recession recedes.
OTA figures show produce sales rose by more than 13% to $9.7 billion in 2012, and organic fruits and vegetables account for more than 10% of consumer fruit and vegetable sales, compared with 6% in 2006 and 2% in 1998.
There is no doubt that consumers’ demand for organic food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, will increase as the economy strengthens.
Companies that specialize in organic produce and ones that grow and ship only a portion of their product as organic each are finding success.
Nearly every fruit and vegetable item is seeing organic growth.
For instance, organic pear production in the Northwest is expected to rise this year to meet demand.
In the past, we have been skeptical of OTA’s sales figures, and this year they differ from ones we’ve used. In The Packer’s annual Produce Market Guide, we reported retail scan data figures from FreshLook Marketing that showed organic produce sales grew from $2.34 billion in 2011 to $2.78 billion in 2012, and increased from 4.5% of total produce sales to 5.2% of total sales.
The OTA acknowledges its survey has overestimated sales in the past, and it’s good to see the group continue to work on presenting the industry with accurate figures.
Regardless of the details, organic produce remains a niche that many produce companies find worth the investment.
Did The Packer get it right? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.