Trendspotting: Fresh produce sale volume on upswing
As inflation continues to rear its ugly head consumers have had to make tough decisions in the supermarket, particular the fresh sections, which are traditionally pricier than center store. In the produce aisle dollar sales continue to grow, yet volume has been predictably down as shoppers try to get the best bang for their buck.
Recently, however, that has changed as retailers invested in fruit prices in August. The average price per pound for fruit decreased by 2.1 percent compared to last year’s levels. Vegetables did sustain small price increases — about 0.5 percent — vs. August 2022 according to Circana (formerly IRI).
The result: In April, fresh produce volume sales exceeded previous year levels for the first time since third quarter of 2021. It happened again in July — and again in August. Fruit volume was up 2.2 percent over August 2022, though vegetables remained flat.
Fruits sales were — not surprisingly — paced by berries, which generated $3.9 billion and had an increase of 2.5 percent in volume vs. last year.
“The absolute reign of berries continued in August,” said Joe Watson, vice president, retail, foodservice and wholesale for IFPA. “The five August weeks generated $815 million in berry sales alone with substantial dollar and pound gains. Seasonal powerhouse cherries continued to trend in the top 10 with $178 million in sales, which was down in dollars as retailers upped their promotional investment, but flat in pounds.”
Big volume gainers for August included melons, up 12.8 percent and pineapples, up 5.2 percent.
Consumers weren’t as excited about vegetables in August — the biggest volume gainers were onions, up 2.3 percent, and tomatoes, up 1.1 percent. Dollarwise, potatoes topped the charts.
“The dollar and pound performance among the top 10 vegetable sellers was all over the board,” said Jonna Parker, team lead, fresh for Circana. “Potatoes remain a remarkable story in that pound sales increased despite the higher prices seen in this year. This boosted potato sales above tomatoes in August, with lettuce in third place.”