Total organic fresh produce sales and volume in the US continued to register double digit growth in the third quarter of 2020, with July-September sales increasing 16% and volume up 15% from the same period in 2019, according to the Q3 2020 Organic Produce Performance Report released exclusively by the Organic Produce Network and Category Partners.
Organic fresh produce in Q3 2020 saw a continuation of trends established in March of this year, with elevated sales across the entire supermarket as consumers continued at-home eating in the face of restaurant closures. As a result, sales of organic fresh produce sales topped $2.2 billion for the quarter, and accounted for 12% of all produce sales, and 6.4% of total produce volume.
As has been the case all year, organic growth continues to increase at a faster rate than conventional produce. The 16% growth in third quarter organic sales was well above the 10% dollar growth in conventional produce for the same period. Additionally, the volume increase of 15.6% was nearly double that of conventional produce, which increased by 8.2% (compared to second quarter growth of 12.9%).
Packaged salads, strawberries, and herbs generated the highest real growth in organic dollars in Q3, adding $105 million in incremental sales growth over the same period last year. With packaged salads leading the way, and accounting for 17% of all organic fresh produce sales, the top 10 growth categories accounted for 70% of all organic dollar growth.
Spearheading the gains in Q3 organic fruit sales were increases in availability, supplies and selection. Strawberries ranked second in overall organic dollars during third quarter, with blueberries the fourth highest dollar contributor. Additionally, strawberries (27%) and blueberries (17%) generated among the strongest dollar increases of all organic produce categories during the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year.
Organic apples, also a traditionally strong category, continue to perform well despite the fact Q3 marks the low ebb of domestic crop availability. During the third quarter, organic apple sales jumped by nearly 20%, to $128 million, up from $107 million the previous year. Organic grapes, with domestic production peaking, moved into the top 10 categories in organic produce dollars. However, grapes did show a decline of 8% in Q3 sales dollars compared to a year ago.
Bananas continued to be the volume leader of organic produce offering, generating 18% of total volume and increasing by 8.3% from the previous year.
The Q3 2020 Organic Produce Performance Report utilized Nielsen retail scan data covering total food sales and outlets in the United States over the months July, August and September. For the first six months of 2020, organic fresh produce sales were up 11% in dollar growth and 13% in volume over the same period of 2019. Total organic fresh produce sales for January-June of this year totaled $3.3 billion.
The full Q3 2020 Organic Produce Performance Report is available here.