Organic berry sales remain strong

From The Packer | 17 July 2023

Overview of organic berries in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on July 17, 2023. 

Berries remain popular items in the organic category.

According to The Packer’s Organic Fresh Trends 2023 consumer survey, 16% of consumers said they purchased organic blackberries exclusively, 15% purchased organic strawberries exclusively, and 14% purchased organic blueberries exclusively.

Also, 35% said they purchased organic strawberries periodically, and 36% said they purchased organic blueberries at least periodically.

Irvine, Calif.-based Gem-Pack LLC, which recently partnered with Watsonville, Calif.-based Well-Pict Berries, grows organic strawberries and raspberries, said Michelle Deleissegues, vice president of marketing.

“Organic sales continue to increase as demand at store level has increased for all organic berry types,” she said.

Organic strawberries account for 15% to 20% of the acreage at Visalia, Calif.-based Seven Seas, part of St. Louis-based Tom Lange Co. Inc., said Brent Scattini, vice president, West Coast.

The company has decreased its organic plantings a bit over the past three years.

“Our sales are about the same, but the margins are smaller,” he said.

That’s because input costs have gone up, but sales prices have not followed suit.

all commodities volumes 10

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Nonetheless, the company’s customer base needs organic strawberries, Scattini said, “and they will always be a part of our program.”

Salinas, Calif.-based Naturipe Farms LLC grows organic strawberries, blueberries and raspberries year-round from multiple regions in North American and South America, said Brian Vertrees, director of business development.

“Naturipe Farms and our growers were one of the pioneers of the organic berry industry and, as such, we index very high in overall market share,” he said.

The company has nearly doubled its organic offerings over the past five years.

Vertrees said he expected sales to continue to grow at a faster rate than the overall industry because of new acreage and new varieties with better eating characteristics.

Prices for organic berries may drop a bit as production increases, but Vertrees said there always will be a price differential between organic and conventional product.

“Yields are still significantly lower when growing organically, which in turn drives higher cost,” he said.

Despite rising prices because of inflation and higher growing costs for organic produce, sales of organic berries have not declined, Deleissegues said.

“The organic consumer has different priorities and, as far as we can tell, is less price-conscious,” she said.

Some consumers may switch to conventional berries to save money as inflation drives up prices, Vertrees said.

“However, the number of consumers committed to buying only organic continues to increase as millennials and Gen Z purchase organics at a higher rate than previous generations,” he said.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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