The demand for organic fresh fruits and vegetables continues to rise as consumers become more aware of how their foods are raised and what they are injecting into their bodies.
Organic volume now accounts for nearly 7% of total product volume, after rising 16% from pre-pandemic levels, according to Nielsen data.
Over the past few years, demand for organic products has reached an all-time high, said Kirk Teske, vice president, product management and sales, fresh produce, North America, for Fresh Del Monte, based in Coral Gables, North America. Florida.
The recent expansion of Del Monte’s organic fresh-cut fruit offering is an example of how the company is meeting that demand, Teske said.
“It allowed us not only to expand our business, but also to diversify our product line and introduce unique SKUs,” he said. “It should be noted that our organic SKUs remain in high demand in many of our distribution markets as we continue to expand our selections.”
The increased demand for organic produce, Teske said, is being driven by an increase in “conscientious consumers,” as well as improved farming practices that produce more organic crops.
Consumers are realigning their shopping habits to incorporate leading organic fruits and vegetables into their purchases, said Chris Veillon, director of marketing at Leamington, Ont.-based greenhouse grower Pure Flavor.
“We continue to see a general increase in the consumption of organic tomatoes and, as a vertically integrated greenhouse vegetable producer with a wide range of organic products, we are responding effectively to consumer demands,” said Veillon. “Consumer demand for more convenient fresh organic snack options has continued to grow and shows no signs of stopping.”
Pure Flavor is increasingly hearing directly from consumers complimenting products like its Aurora Bites Organic Mini Peppers, which are available year-round, he added.
“Organic demand has been growing excitingly and steadily, even as we emerge from the pandemic,” said Aaron Quon, executive director of greenhouse and Canadian category development for Oppy, based in Vancouver, British Columbia. “Organic follows conventional sales well.”
Oppy’s organic staples include peppers, vine tomatoes and cucumbers.
In recent years, the company has increased its volumes of organic peppers, mini peppers and mini cucumbers. Oppy has also introduced heirloom tomato trials through its OriginO brand, whose president, Raymond Wong, has extensive expertise in bio-resources and agricultural engineering that sets the standard for organic greenhouse vegetables of the highest quality, Quon said.
Oppy has also added more Fair Trade certified items through the Divemex brand, the first bell pepper producer in North America to be Fair Trade certified.
Pineapple and watermelon take the lead in summer
Del Monte’s current line of organic fruits includes top sellers like mango, pineapple, watermelon and apples — these fruits, Teske said, offer what Del Monte considers the best sales returns. Pineapples and watermelon are generally the best sellers in spring and summer.
The organic pineapple was included in Del Monte’s promotions for its Pinkglow Pineapple on Mother’s Day and will be included in Father’s Day and National Pineapple Day (June 27) promotions.
New additions to the range include fresh cut apples and, on the vegetable side, fresh cut organic butternut squash. Another product that has become increasingly popular recently for Del Monte is organic coconut.
In order to take full advantage of the increase in demand for organic products, retailers must clearly differentiate the more expensive organic products from conventional products, Teske said, which can easily be done with container labeling and signage. at the store.
As bioavailability and production volume at fresh-cut facilities increase, the price differential will steadily decrease, Teske predicts. That said, there will always be a price gap between organic and conventional.
“This is due to differences in growing costs, availability and farming techniques. During production, organic products must also be completely isolated from the main volume of conventional fresh-cut products.
One of the benefits of Del Monte’s fresh-cut organic offerings, Teske said, is that fruit is cut to order before distribution, thanks to the company’s many distribution centers.
“Since most fruits and vegetables cannot be cut in-store, this process takes the hassle out of retail stores and will help continue to ramp up retail sales.”
Organic quality has been excellent so far this year, Veillon said, and as Pure Flavor expands its product line and grows its grower family, volumes will increase from last year.
“Consumers are looking for more variety than ever in the organic vegetables they buy,” said Tiffany Sabelli, sales manager of Pure Flavor. “Organic buyers are no longer satisfied with basics or basic necessities. Instead, they’re looking for convenient veggie snacks like Aurora Bites Organic Mini Peppers, Organic Mini Cucumbers, or specialty cooking ingredients like our new Luna Sweets Organic Cocktail Tomatoes and Organic Roma Tomatoes.
According to the IMF, a third of Gen Z shoppers want their produce aisle to carry more organic and greenhouse-grown produce. And as more consumers become aware of the environmental benefits of sustainable greenhouse cultivation, Pure Flavor expects demand to continue to rise, Veillon said.
New options for home chefs
Last fall, Pure Flavor expanded its organic program by adding two exciting new products: Organic Roma Tomatoes and Organic Luna Sweets Cocktail Tomatoes. Both of these products are a great addition to any retailer’s offering, Sabelli said, as consumers continue to cook at home more often, but are often challenged to find organic ingredients to use in their recipes.
Veillon said Pure Flavor gets its organic message across multiple digital channels with targeted ads and organic content meant to forge an emotional connection.
In addition to developing its own recipes in-house, for example, Pure Flavor partners with content creators across North America to show consumers all the ways organic produce can be enjoyed, from burgers to bruschetta. Organic Greek Panzanella Salad.
“In our 2020 #LoveforFresh campaign, we surveyed over 13,000 people across North America to understand what influenced their purchasing decisions, how often they ate fresh fruits and vegetables and much more” , said Veillon. “For those asked about their organic shopping habits, 79% of respondents said a wider selection of organic options was extremely important or very important to them.”
According to IMF, a third of shoppers expect to buy more organic produce in 2022 than they did this year, so Pure Flavor expects to see an increase in the variety of organic vegetables on grocery store shelves. , said Veillon.
Pure Flavor’s full line of organic products available year-round in 2022 includes Tomatoes, Vine Tomatoes, Beefsteak and Heirloom Tomatoes, Juno Bites Red Grape Tomatoes, Sangria Medley Tomatoes, Roma Tomatoes, organic Luna Sweets cocktail tomatoes, bell peppers and sweet peppers. , Red, Yellow and Orange Aurora Bites Mini Peppers and Cucumbers, Long English Cucumbers and Mini Cucumbers.
In general, production costs for conventionally grown produce have increased while costs for organic produce have not increased at the same rate, Quon said. For Oppy, one of the main reasons for this is the increased reliance on in-house production rather than outside suppliers. For example, Oppy’s OriginO production grows its own proprietary blended soils that are manufactured on-site, as opposed to sourcing fertilizer from an outside source.