Celery was the leading fresh commodity for retail sales growth in 2019, and it wasn’t even close.
Retail sales growth numbers (conventional and organic) in 2019 reveal that
Celery retail sales rose 25.6% in 2019, compared with 2018 sales, said Steve Lutz, senior vice president for insights and innovation for Category Partners, Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Year-over-year sales growth (for conventional and organic) for other commodities) were:
- Broccoli: 8%;
- Raspberries: 7.7%;
- Blueberries: 7.7%;
- Onions: 7.6%;
- Avocados: 7.6%;
- Lettuce: 7.3%;
- Packaged salads: 5.6%;
- Herbs and spices: 5.2%; and
- Watermelons: 4.3%.
“There were only seven categories that were above average in both volume and price, and celery was clearly number one,” Lutz said.
Lutz said the volume of celery sold was up 9% in 2019, meaning that demand was thriving. Lutz said conventional celery was up 8.4% in sales and organic celery was up 12% for the year. Organic celery accounts for about 9% of the total celery category, compared to 5% for the organic share of the entire produce department, he said.
“So it was not like this was just a fluke shortage we sometimes see in seasonal crops, where there is no product available and the demand is relatively fixed,” he said.
Strong celery demand in 2019 pushed prices above $60 a carton in April, boosted in part by the so-called “medical medium” Anthony William, who published a book in May called “Celery Juice: The Most Powerful Medicine of Our Time Healing Millions Worldwide.”
Whatever the source of increased demand, Lutz said both conventional and organic celery benefited in 2019.
This year. the celery shipping point price was $8.50-10 per carton in California’s Coachella Valley on Jan. 31, and total shipments of U.S. celery for the week of Jan. 20 were running 15% higher than a year ago.