Year in Produce - Organic

The organic market took no dramatic leaps in 2017, just continued its steady sales growth spurred by consumer demand.

No longer can one debate whether organic food is just a fad. Nearly every retailer in North America carries some, and nearly all want to carry more.

As we found out in our Fresh Trends 2018 survey, and the Organic Fresh Trends magazine that came out in December, all demographics demand organic, regardless of family income level, geography, gender or ethnicity. But the youngest age group (18-39) has the strongest demand, and that points to continuing growth.


Nov. 6 – Berries, salads continue to set organic sales pace

By Jim Offner

Organics continue to roll up sales gains in the produce category.

According to numbers from The Nielsen Co., organic produce grew 9% in dollars year-over-year and represented a 10% share of total produce as of Aug. 26.  

The numbers show sales of organics are vigorous, but that may be just part of the story, said Andy Tudor, business development director with Selah, Wash.-based Rainier Fruit Co.

“Consumers are buying larger packages of organic berries,” Tudor said.

“Instead of pints and things, they’re buying 18 ounces or up to 2 pounds.”

The numbers show prepackaged salads continue to lead organic sales, with 3% year-on-year growth in 2017, according to Irwindale, Calif.-based Ready Pac Foods, a subsidiary of Bonduelle Fresh Americas.

Lettuce and berries continue to dominate the organic category, combining for nearly 30% of organic sales in the U.S., said Michael Castagnetto, vice president of global sourcing with Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Robinson Fresh.

Apples and spinach are the next largest organic categories, with 9% and 8% of sales, respectively, Castagnetto said.

Overall, only 14 categories make up 80% of organic produce sales, compared to 20 categories within the conventional space, he said.


Nov. 6 – OTA, The Packer’s Global Organic Produce Expo partner

By Greg Johnson

With The Packer’s inaugural Global Organic Produce Expo coming up Jan. 25-27 in Hollywood, Fla., a partnership with the Organic Trade Association promises to enhance the show’s educational element.

In the partnership, OTA plans to present organic produce information, retail trends and international challenges and solutions to the event’s education program.

“Produce has traditionally been the entry category for consumers new to organic, and organic produce now occupies the center of the healthy plate in an increasing number of American homes,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of OTA. 

“The OTA and The Packer share in the vision to offer organic education and opportunities to both buyers and sellers of fresh produce,” said Shannon Shuman, vice president and publisher for produce at Farm Journal Media.  

For more information about The Packer’s Global Organic Produce Expo, visit


Aug. 21 – Organic sales continue to climb

By Chris Crawford    

Organic produce continues to gain steady momentum, and that’s good news for suppliers and retailers alike.

Maggie McNeil, director of media relations for the Organic Trade Association, said the group’s 2017 Organic Industry Survey showed retail sales of organic fruits and vegetables in 2016 in the U.S. were $15.6 billion, up 8.4% from the previous year.  

“That growth rate is almost triple the growth pace of total fruit and veggie sales,” she said.

“Organic produce sales account for almost 40% of all organic food sales and remain the biggest organic food category.”

However, the survey numbers from the organic association differ widely from the United Fresh Produce Association’s FreshFacts on Retail report, which set organic produce sales at retail (not including processing or foodservice outlet sales) at $4.46 billion in 2016, up 13.2% from 2015.

What’s more interesting, the United Fresh numbers — from Nielsen Fresh — said organic sales in 2016 accounted for 9% of all fresh produce sales.    

The 9% organic market share number from FreshFacts is below the OTA’s 15% estimate for organic’s share of the produce market.

Regardless of which numbers are used, organic produce sales growth sees no end in sight.


May 1 – Suppliers, retailers work together to build category

By Jim Offner

Organic produce suppliers say they are happy to work with retailers to further build an organic category that already has gained a strong foothold in stores.

Consumers want the product, and retailers appear happy to oblige, said Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications for Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Food Co.

“With the rapid growth in demand for organic, many of our retailers are offering a wider range of Dole organic fruits, vegetables, berries and salads,” he said.  

Expanded retailer accommodations come as no surprise to Jacob Shafer, spokesman with Salinas, Calif.-based Mann Packing Co.

“Shelf space and variety of products are tied directly to consumer demands. If consumers continue to buy organic products, then more and more organics will become available at retail.”