Second-quarter produce sales up; volume lags

09/18/2013 11:37:00 AM
Tom Karst

Second-quarter retail produce sales this year rose 3.7% on the shoulders of higher average retail prices, but volume declined 2.3%, according to the United Fresh Produce Association’s FreshFacts report.

The quarterly report, developed by Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh in partnership with Nielsen Perishables Group and Del Monte Fresh Produce, showed that average prices for all fresh produce items surged 6.2% compared with the second quarter of 2013.

The Sept. 18 report showed fresh fruits showed a 4.4% sales increase for the quarter, with volume off 3.2% and average prices running 7.8% above the same period in 2012. Fresh vegetable sales were 2.7% higher for the second quarter, with volume down 2% but average prices were 4.8% up compared with the second quarter of 2012.

Topping all other fruit in the top 10, apples showed a sales increase of 18%, according to the report. Despite average retail apple prices that were 13.7% higher than the second quarter of 2012, volume of apples sold actually increased 3.7%, according to the report.

The top-ranked berry category suffered a rare decline in overall sales and volume in the second quarter, with average retail berry prices 6.3% higher than a year ago but sales off 3% and volume down by 8.8%, according to the report.

Avocados were the only top ten fruit category that showed lower average prices in the quarter compared with a year ago, according to the report. Average retail prices for avocados were off 6.8%, while volume sold was sharply up by 19.9% compared with a year ago; overall avocado sales gained 11.8% compared with the second quarter of 2012.

The sales and volume variations in vegetable categories was less pronounced than fruits, according to the report. Each of the top 10 vegetable categories showed increased dollar sales compared with a year ago except for potatoes, which dropped 8.5%, and mushrooms, which declined by 0.5%, according to the report.

Packaged salads showed a 6.3% increase in sales and a 5.1% jump in volume compared with the second quarter of 2012, according to the report.

Organic fruits and vegetables showed strong growth in the second quarter of 2013, with reported sales increases of 34.9% and 16.2% respectively, compared with a year ago. Volume increases were rated at more than 31% for organic fruits and 13% for organic vegetables, according to the report.

The FreshFacts report also includes an analysis of produce branding trends. Private-label and brand presence in the produce department is increasing, the report said, though unbranded produce still accounts for 57% of all sales. Private-label produce has a strong presence in categories including potatoes, onions, tomatoes and packaged salad. Fresh produce categories with strong brand presence, according to the report, include berries, citrus, lettuce, mushrooms and pineapples.

The FreshFacts on Retail report can be downloaded free of charge online for all United Fresh members ($50 for non-members). For more information about the report, contact Shannon Young, United Fresh education manager, at 202-303-3400 ext. 405 or syoung@unitedfresh.org.



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