US organic produce sales increased by 3 per cent while volume decreased by 3.7 per cent in 2022

The performance of individual organic fresh produce categories ranged widely in the US last year, according to the State of Organic Produce 2022, a report released by Organic Produce Network (OPN).

Mixed berries in a bowl Adobe

The 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 per cent and volume decreased by 3.7 per cent year-over-year, the performance of the top 20 categories was varied as inflation and other pressures created a dynamic market environment, the report outlined.

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

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

”The three bottom year-over-year volume performers all had significant contributing factors beyond inflation,” OPN outlined. ”Lettuce suffered aphid pressure in the desert due to warmer temperatures in Q1 and Q2 and was later dealt a devastating blow by 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; and apple supply 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,” the report said.

”Both categories posted year-over-year increases in sales and volume, with organic herbs and spices showing gains of 4.1 per cent and 6.5 per cent respectively, and organic grapes showing respective gains of 8.3 per cent and 6.9 per cent.

”In short, last year’s highly inflationary environment wasn’t able to keep these two categories down.”

When it came to the top spot by total retail sales, berries took the lead in 2022 with US$1.56bn in sales, just ahead of packaged salad which totalled US$1.55bn.

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