Fresh produce sales up for Q2

Fresh produce sales up for Q2

Higher retail prices supported increase in fruit and vegetable sales while volume sales actually dropped.

FOR the second quarter this year, fresh produce sales are up compared to last year's figures, according to "FreshFacts on Retail," a quarterly report from the United Fresh Produce Assn. that tracks retail produce sales and performance.

Fruits and vegetables saw gains in sales in the second quarter, driven by strong increases in retail prices. Fruits posted the strongest growth in sales and retail prices, exceeding 2012 figures by 4.4% and 7.8%, respectively, but posting a 3.2% decline in volume sales (Table).

The FreshFacts report, produced in partnership with the Nielsen Perishables Group and sponsored by Del Monte Fresh Produce, measures retail price and sales trends for the top 10 fruit and vegetable commodities, as well as value-added, organic and other produce categories.

Steeper pricing resulted in stagnant or decreased volume for several categories compared to the second quarter of 2012 as price continued to be a primary factor shoppers consider when buying fresh produce.

The trend of sharp increases in average retail pricing and decreased volume extended to value-added fruit, while value-added vegetables posted growth in both dollars and volume. The demand for organic items remained high, with organic fruits and vegetables achieving double-digit growth.

Specifically, the report notes that eight of the top 10 fruits posted increases in dollar sales, driven, in most cases, by increases in retail prices.

Berries, apples, citrus and cherries drove the fruit price increase during the second quarter of 2013, the report notes.

Apples dominated fruit commodities in dollar growth, with an increase of 18.0% in sales and 13.7% in retail prices, while volume sales increased nearly 4%.

Buoyed by increases in retail prices, dollar sales for each of the top 10 vegetable categories increased compared to the second quarter of 2012, with the exception of potatoes, which declined, and carrots and mushrooms, which maintained sales.

Packaged salad, the highest-selling vegetable category, posted the largest increase in volume sales and the second-largest increase in dollar sales at 5.1% and 6.3%, respectively.

Onions posted the strongest increases among the top 10 vegetables, exceeding last year's figures by 8.3% in sales and 10.4% in retail prices, but volume declined 1.9% compared to the second quarter of 2012.

Organic fruits and vegetables showed strong growth in the quarter, with increases in dollar sales of 34.9% and 16.2%, respectively.

Average weekly dollar sales increased 3.9% for value-added fruits and 7.4% for value-added vegetables. Despite the price increase, value-added vegetables still posted volume growth of nearly 10%.

 

U.S. produce sales, volume and retail price

 

Weekly $

% change

Weekly

% change

Average

% change

 

sales per

versus

volume

versus

retail

versus

Product

store

Q2 2012

per store

Q2 2012

price, $

Q2 2012

Fruits

24,115

4.4

18,662

-3.2

1.29

7.8

Vegetables

20,616

2.7

14,547

-2.0

1.42

4.8

Other produce*

4,458

4.8

1,637

5.1

2.72

-0.3

Total produce

49,189

3.7

34,846

-2.3

1.41

6.2

*Other produce consists of products such as grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, dressings and beverages.

Source: United Fresh Produce Assn.

 

Brands vs. private labels

Recent trends show that the presence of branded products and private labels is growing within produce departments, and their dollar and volume growth are outpacing that of unbranded products, according to the quarterly spotlight highlighted in the report.

The report notes that "although produce is a heavily unbranded department, understanding the value and shifting dynamics will be increasingly important as the volume of branded and private-label offerings continues to rise."

Unbranded products accounted for 57.5% of produce department dollar sales during the 52 weeks ending June 29, 2013, while branded products accounted for 31.6% and private-label products accounted for 10.9%.

"Because of packaging, messaging and brand equity, branded and private-label products offer a vehicle to communicate product value that unbranded produce cannot — an important tool for retailers and suppliers in an environment where consumers are increasingly concerned with value," the report notes. "While national brands have the potential advantage of brand loyalty and recognition, private-label brands generally have the advantage of drawing shoppers focused on value."

A third element to consider in the branding dynamic is that unbranded products sold in bulk offer shoppers the ability to choose the amount they purchase, which is another benefit as many consumers work to reduce food waste, the report states.

Volume:85 Issue:41

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