Although the market for organic produce remains hot overall, demand for packaged organic salads may be cooling off a bit.
“Organic salad kits are slowing down,” said Anne Byerly, vice president of marketing for Apio, Guadalupe, Calif.
Byerly said there were many new organic salad kits introduced at PMA Fresh Summit a year ago, but she said some retailers — including Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club — have backed away from the items because of low sales.
Vice president of marketing Vicky St. Geme said that Taylor Farms, Salinas Calif., has experienced flat sales of organic packaged salads. However, she said demand for some bagged organic greens are actually increasing.
For example, she said that according to Nielsen data for the week ending Sept. 23, sales of organic baby spinach and organic arugula both increased 5% year over year, while organic butter lettuce increased 8%.
Fabian Pereira, head of marketing for Fresh Express Inc., Orlando, Fla., said organic greens have been a $1 billion industry in each of the past three years. Pereira said organic salad sales have grown 36% since 2013, but the growth rate has slowed in the past year.
According to Nielsen data for the 52-week period ending Aug. 26, organic packaged salad sales grew just 0.9% compared to the previous year. The subcategory was worth $740 million for an 18.6% share of the nearly $4 billion packaged salad category. By volume, 185 million organic units sold for a growth rate of 3%.
“One of the recent drivers of organic green growth is organic kits,” Pereira said. “From $29 million dollar sales in 2015, we have grown to $72 million.”
Alicia Blanco, marketing manager for Misionero Vegetables, Gonzales, Calif., said the introduction of new, affordable organic kits could lead to increased growth in the category in 2018. The company introduced ready-to-eat Earth Greens Organic Simple Salad Kits at the recent PMA Fresh Summit.
And Dole is betting on more organic sales as well. The company introduced six organic salad mixes and two kits in 2016. At the recent PMA Fresh Summit, Dole announced plans to expand its organic salad kit line with two new items early in 2018: Organic Sweet Citrus Salad Kit and Organic Savory Balsamic Salad Kit.
Want to know more about organic produce? Register for The Packer’s inaugural Global Organic Produce Expo, Jan. 25-27, in Hollywood, Fla.