Another challenge organic produce must overcome is the price difference.
The Packer’s consumer survey Fresh Trends 2012 found that 27% of consumers said they typically buy organic fruits and vegetables, and 12% said they always buy organic fresh produce.
Of the rest who said they don’t typically buy organic produce, 46% of them said they would buy it if price wasn’t an issue.
This spring, price wasn’t much of a hurdle, evidently.
The latest FreshFacts report from United Fresh Produce Association showed a 14.6% sales gain for organic vegetables and a 20.3% sales increase for organic fruit in the second quarter.
For that period, the report said that organic vegetable sales accounted for 3.2% of total produce department sales, with organic fruit comprising 2.1% of total produce sales, which means 5.3% of fresh produce purchases were organic.
I used apples earlier as an example because it’s a perfect item to illustrate organic’s growing market niche. Washington has an arid climate well-suited for organic growth, as it accounts for nearly all of the commercial organic apple volume.
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, 14,600 of the 167,000 planted acres were certified organic in 2011, which is just under 9%.
Anyone who thinks a study like Stanford’s will hurt organic foods’ popularity isn’t paying attention to market indicators.
As the OTA’s executive director Christine Bushway pointed out, nutritional benefits have never been a prime motivation for organic consumers.
Wherever organic produce’s plateau is, we haven’t seen it yet.
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