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Organic Food Exhibition|Organic Produce Health Halo Still Shines, but Consumers Wary of Inflation

2024.05.11

According to Organic Food Exhibition, retail organic produce sales still have momentum, but inflation and an uneven economy have slowed growth.

 

Scan data from Circana shows that organic produce sales in 2022 totaled $7.78 billion, up 1.9% from 2021.

 

In 2022, retail organic produce accounted for 10.3% of total retail produce sales.

 

The volume of organic produce moved in 2022 totaled 2.62 billion pounds, down 3.1% from 2021.

 

The average retail price per pound for organic produce for 2022 was $2.98 per pound, up 5.1% from 2021.

 

The Packer’s Organic Fresh Trends 2024 survey polled more than 1,100 consumers in mid-October, asking about if and how they purchase organic produce. The survey considered demographic variables including income, gender, presence of children, region, age and ethnicity in the context of reported organic purchases.

 

Organic Fresh Trends indicated the commodities that consumers most often said they purchased exclusively as organic: pluots (34%), artichokes (30%), kale (26%), apricots (25%), pomegranates (23%), cranberries (23%), Asian pears (22%), sprouts (22%) and papayas (22%).

 

In the same vein, Organic Fresh Trends revealed the top organic commodities purchased at least periodically: pluots (68%), Asian pears (54%), kale (53%), artichokes (52%) and papayas (51%).

 

According to Organic Fresh Trends results, the produce commodities that consumers least frequently said that they purchased exclusively as organic were cantaloupe (9%), onions (10%), nectarines (11%), sweet corn (11%), clementines/mandarins (11%), potatoes (11%) and watermelon (12%).

 

The roughly 65% of consumers who indicated they purchased organic produce at least some of the time were asked, “Why do you buy certified organic produce?” with respondents asked to select all the options that apply. By percentage, the results were:

 

Nutrient content/personal health — 51%.

Environmental data/social responsibility — 44%.

Food safety/avoiding chemicals — 55%.

Other — 6%.

 

When Organic Fresh Trends 2024 respondents were asked, “Where are you most likely to buy organic fresh produce? Pick one,” responses were:

 

Chain superstore (i.e., Walmart, Target) — 25%.

Warehouse store (Sam’s Club, Costco) — 11%.

Regional supermarket (Safeway, Ralphs, Publix, H-E-B) — 20%.

Chain discounter (Aldi, Save-A-Lot, Food 4 Less, Lidl) — 9%.

Specialty market (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts) — 23%.

Farmers market — 11%.

Other — 1%.

 

When asked, “What percentage of your total annual fresh fruit and vegetable purchases are organic (your best estimate)?” consumers who said they purchased organic produce periodically (65% of the total survey) indicated:

 

1% to 10% of total purchases — 22%.

11% to 25% of total purchases — 29%.

26% to 50% of total purchases — 30%.

51% to 75% of total purchases — 14%.

More than 75% — 5%.

 

Those answers are somewhat different than The Packer’s Organic Fresh Trends 2023, when the survey found 13% of consumers said their annual organic produce purchases accounted for between 1% and 10% of their total produce purchases, compared with 22% with that answer in the 2024 survey.

 

This year, 5% of consumers who buy organic at least sometimes said that organic produce purchases account for 75% of their total fresh fruit and vegetable purchases, down from 10% with that response in the 2023 survey.

 

When asked, “How much more are you willing to pay for organic fresh fruits and vegetables over what you’d pay for conventionally grown produce?” Organic Fresh Trends 2024 found these answers from those consumers who said they purchased organic produce at least periodically:

 

Not willing to pay any more — 13%.

Less than 10% more — 32%.

10% to 24% more — 33%.

25% to 49% more — 13%.

50% more — 6%.

Over 50% more — 2%.

 

Compared with Organic Fresh Trends 2023 responses, there more consumers in the 2024 survey unwilling to pay any premium (13% in 2024 versus 11% in 2023).

 

In the Organic Fresh Trends 2024 survey, 32% said they would pay up to 10% more for organic produce, up from 27% in the 2023 survey.

 

Thirty-three percent of Organic Fresh Trends 2024 organic consumers said they would pay a premium between 10% and 24% for organic produce, up from 31% in the 2023 survey.

 

However, in the 2024 survey, 13% of organic consumers said they would pay an organic premium between 25% to 49%. That is down from 19% in the 2023 survey.

 

When asked, “What thoughts go into whether to buy organic fresh fruits and vegetables or not?” Organic Fresh Trends 2024 found these answers from those consumers who said they purchased organic produce at least sometimes:

 

Price — Is it worth the extra cost? I weigh the price vs. the advantage to my health — 61%.

Packaging — Organic product is more convenient — 24%.

Appearance — Organic is fresh/cleaner/riper than conventionally grown product — 41%.

Signs tell me where/how the product was grown, and that influences my decision — 21%.

Signs that list advantages of organic (chemical free, pesticide free, etc.) and that influences my decision — 25%.

 

When organic consumers were asked in The Packer’s survey how they prefer to have organics displayed at food stores, they responded:

 

• All organic in their own separate area of the produce department — 53%.

• Intermixed with other items (so organic apples next to conventional apples, marked with signs) — 34%.

• No preference — 13%.

 

One question in the Organic Fresh Trends 2024 survey asked all consumers (both organic and non-organic produce consumers) about how they are adjusting to inflation at the supermarket: “What, if any, produce items are you buying less of because of inflation?” 

 

Responses were:

 

None — 22%.

Berries — 33%.

Packaged produce — 31%.

Organic produce — 33%.

Avocados — 24%.

Other — 8%.

 

Despite the challenges with inflation, organic produce purchases are a big part of fresh fruit and vegetable purchases for many U.S. shoppers, especially for younger consumers.

 

When asked by Organic Fresh Trends 2024 about what type of produce they typically buy, 46% of those in the 30-39 age group said organic produce, compared with just 22% with that answer for those aged 60 or older.

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