Fresh produce sales still strong

copcraigFresh produce sales for grocery retailers in the time of COVID-19 returned to more moderate dollar growth, compared to the first two weeks of social distancing. For the week ended March 29, fresh produce increased 8.1 percent compared to the same week in 2019, according to IRI.

Fresh vegetables were up 15.2 percent while fresh fruit increased just 1.5 percent. Vegetables were paced by potatoes, up 65 percent in dollars and 58 percent in volume, and onions, up 31 percent and 44 percent, respectively.

Potatoes are in such demand that suppliers are trying to figure out new and innovative ways to get them in the hands of consumers.

The Idaho Potato Commission, for example, recently offered suggestions to retailers on “how to best merchandise the product they can get, when what they want (bags) is limited,” said Seth Pemsler, vice president of retail/international for the IPC. “The goal is to help them sell bulk. We will continue to work with retailers and wholesalers to optimally merchandise cartons since that is what our industry will need to provide them for the foreseeable future.”

Suggestions include waterfalling potatoes to help displays last longer and displaying bulk product in their boxes in order to save time and labor.

On the fruit side, oranges and lemons were the top dollar gainers, up 43 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

Generally, fresh produce categories with longer shelf-life that cook well or are easy to snack on have grown in demand over the past few weeks. Hampering fresh sales is the fact that frozen is up 41 percent and shelf-stable is up 51 percent compared to the same week last year.

“We see fundamentally different consumer engagement with produce amid COVID-19 and week three continued to show a three-way split of the produce dollar between fresh, frozen and shelf-stable,” said Joe Watson, vice president of membership and engagement for the Produce Marketing Association. “This is why fresh produce never saw the kind of surge in sales that we’ve seen in fresh meat or other perimeter departments. At this point, many shoppers are looking to minimize trips. It’s important to encourage fresh produce consumption by providing tips about items for now and items with longer shelf-life to have ample fresh fruit and vegetables for the entire week.”

New Zealand Envy and Jazz expected to turn heads
The New Zealand apple crop has landed, and retailers and shoppers should expect fresh, large and exceptionally flavorful apples to hit stores in June, enabling high-quality, year-round apple programs from T&G Global. T&G’s New Zealand apple volumes are up compared to last year, with Jazz and Envy driving the program, Read More ...
Western Growers mourns longtime staffer Tom Oliveri
Tom (Tommy O) Oliveri, a longtime Western Growers staffer who retired from the association in January 2018, several months shy of his 40th anniversary, died in his home Thursday morning, May 28. He was 67. Over four decades, Mr. Oliveri demonstrated uncommon dedication to the WG membership, establishing himself as a Read More ...
Homegrown Organic Farms earns EFI certification, shipping labeled product next week
Homegrown Organic Farms announced its certification from Equitable Food Initiative for its California-grown, organic stone fruit.  This certification demonstrates Homegrown Organic Farms’ dedication to the improved lives of its direct employees and all those associated with their organization.  EFI-labeled product will Read More ...
Magic Sun hires new sales operations director
Magic Sun, a leading hydroponic tomato grower in Mexico, is seeing strong growth and increasing interest in its program to deliver high-quality, year-round greenhouse-grown product. Alejandro Santander, vice president of sales and operations and one of the original founders of Magic Sun, indicated that the overall tomato market Read More ...
Buehler’s names new EVP of sales and marketing
Buehler’s Fresh Foods, a leading supermarket chain in northeast Ohio, promoted Mike Davidson to the position of executive vice president of sales and marketing. In Davidson’s new role his responsibilities include oversight of all current sales and merchandising departments, marketing, customer insights, central kitchen Read More ...
Patrinka Crammond joins Shanley Farms
Citriburst Finger Lime grower Shanley Farms has added Patrinka Crammond in business and program development. Crammond, has an extensive background in the produce industry, most recently seven years with Savor Fresh Farms Kiss Melon program in sales and retail program development. “With many retail relationships and experience Read More ...

Market Watch

the source pro-act

Western growing regions getting hit by rain, cooler temps

floral pulse