Organic sales estimates differ, but agree on growth - The Packer

Organic sales estimates differ, but agree on growth

04/28/2011 09:04:18 AM
Tom Karst

FreshLook Marketing’s data shows organic retail sales of $1.34 billion, excluding Wal-Mart.

Pressed about the discrepancy between the scan data and the OTA estimate, Haumann said the association has confidence in its numbers. The estimates are produced in association with the Nutrition Business Journal , she said.

A spokesman for the Journal was unavailable for comment April 27.

“We do stand by our figures, based on the universe that NBJ used, and it is comparable with what we have done in the past,” Haumann said.

The OTA survey found that the sales growth rate for organic fruits and vegetables (fresh and processed) as 11.8% in 2010, up from 11.4% in 2009 and 6.3% in 2008.

Haumann said the variance between the Perishables Group number and association can be attributed to several factors. Unlike the Perishables Group retail sales data, she said the OTA estimate includes processed fruits and vegetables, sales at farmers markets, club stores and mass merchandisers, community supported agriculture (CSAs), national and regional health food stores, exports and other avenues.

“When you look at the CSAs, most of that would be fruits and vegetables,” she said. “Because we don’t break down where fruits and vegetables are distributed, that would be part of the difference.”

Gary Lucier, economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research, said that recent estimates of the fresh produce industry by Roberta Cook, economist at the University of California-Davis, puts consumer value of fresh fruits and vegetables at close to $113 billion.

Lucier said the OTA’s $9.79 billion estimate of the consumer value of organic fresh produce doesn’t seem too out of line compared to Cook’s estimate, representing about 8% of the total fresh produce consumer value.

“It is not inconceivable to me that you would have 8% to 10% of the total sales value as organic,” he said.

The OTA survey did not identify the marketing channels for organic fresh produce in 2010. However, the OTA survey identified market channels for all organic food sales:

  • 41% in mass market grocery stores
  • 20% in national natural food grocery chains
  • 18% in regional natural health food stores
  • 7.5% in club and warehouse stores
  • 5.5% in mass merchandisers
  • 3.4% in farmers markets
  • 1.8% in Internet sales
  • 1% in boutique and specialty
  • 1% in direct exports
  • 0.4% in mail order/other direct

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