Organic produce items saw wide range of performance in 2022

The performance of individual organic produce categories ranged widely last year, according to the State of Organic Produce 2022, a report released by Organic Produce Network. The 72-page report provides an overall view of organic produce retail performance in 2022 as well as specific insights into the top 20 organic produce categories.

While total organic produce sales increased by 3 percent and volume decreased by −3.7 percent year over year, the performance of the top 20 categories was quite variable thanks to inflation and other pressures.

The best performers in year-over-year sales increases were onions (15.4 percent), cucumbers (11.3 percent), and potatoes (10.7 percent), while the worst performers were lettuce (−3.1 percent), celery (−2.3 percent), and bell peppers (−2.1 percent).

On volume, the best-performing organic commodities year over year were grapes (6.9 percent), herbs and spices (6.5 percent), and cucumbers (2.7 percent), while the weakest were lettuce (−12.7 percent), avocados (−11.4 percent) and apples (−10.3 percent).

The three bottom year-over-year volume performers all had significant contributing factors beyond inflation. Lettuce suffered aphid pressure in the desert due to warmer temperatures in Q1 and Q2 and later dealt with INSV (impatiens necrotic spot virus) in the Salinas Valley in the fall/early winter; avocados had a lower-than-normal volume out of Mexico in the first half of the year; apple supplies was impacted by a very small Washington crop.

Two categories that bucked the organic produce sector’s overall trend of increased sales and decreased volume were fresh herbs and spices and grapes. Both categories posted year-over-year increases in sales and volume, with organic herbs and spices showing gains of 4.1 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively, and organic grapes showing respective gains of 8.3 percent and 6.9 percent. 

When it came to the top spot by total retail sales, berries took the lead in 2022, edging out packaged salads ever so slightly with $1.561 billion in sales (packaged salad sales totaled $1.556 billion).

Bananas held on to their spot as the top volume mover, with nearly 509 million pounds sold at retail in 2022.

One data set that gives a very interesting look into organic produce performance is the price premiums commanded by various organic categories over their conventional counterparts. Of the categories analyzed, organic cucumbers took the lead in price premium percentage in 2022, selling for an average of 138 percent more per pound than conventional cucumbers. Celery, on the other hand, had one of the lowest premiums at 22 percent (dropping from 32 percent in 2021).  

Organic bananas had a gain in their price premium over conventional bananas, jumping from 25 percent in 2021 to 32 percent in 2022.

For more insights, access the report here.

For more information:
Matt Seeley
Organic Produce Network
Tel.: +1 (831) 884-5092    

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