The Organic Food Category Grows in Supermarkets

Sales of organic, food, and non-food products continue to grow in the United States. According to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), $61.9 billion was sold in 2020, a growth of 12.4%.

It was the first time that sales of organic produce reflected a growth rate greater than double, compared to 2019, which was only 5%, according to this association’s Organic Industry Survey 2021.

In this context, in Hollywood, Florida, the Global Organic Produce Expo was held during the first days of February. Guest speakers from supermarkets such as Giant Food, Jewel Osco, and managers of the distributor Four Seasons, among others, participated in the event.

Graphic courtesy Organic Trade Association.

Among the participants were companies from both the United States and other countries.

Helena Beckett, sales director of Giddings Berries USA, presented the organic blueberries imported from Chile and Mexico at the expo. She emphasized that the event showed the great demand for organic products, the need for suppliers, and consumers’ desire to obtain food and fruits that are beneficial to their health and under sustainability standards. 

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In an interview with Joseph Stoyka, Southeastern Grocers’ Fresh Produce Category Manager, who is responsible for purchasing organic produce, he said that there had been a growth in sales, with new customers buying from Winn Dixie stores, including in the Hispanic markets of Fresco y Más, especially in South Miami. 

Stoyka believes that consumers gravitate toward organic products because they know it is better for their health. Some of the best performing categories in sales are grapes, berries, peppers, and tropical fruits, such as papayas and avocados.

On the supply of fresh produce from local and national distributors, Stoyka believes they are selling a bit of both organic and conventional. He acknowledges that he would like to see more organic produce, but it depends on demand, the ability to purchase crops, and the verification process for growers. Currently, Southeastern Grocers is trying to buy locally. Still, if it does not get the product, the grocer buys nationally in states like California, broccoli and cauliflower, or imports directly from Mexico.

He highlighted the following topics at the Expo sessions:

  • Innovations in terms of new packaging available.
  • Discussions on marketing trends to help educate the consumer.
  • New marketing techniques with the mix of conventional and organic products onset or offset. It all depends on if the product is available in organic.
  • Increased consumer purchase intent to try fresh organic produce because it is more available and because they know it is better for their health and the environment. Therefore, they are willing to pay a little more.

This last buying trend has been observed, most notably during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers have decided to buy more organic food products online or in physical stores because they select better quality products to feed and nourish their families, and because definitely, with the so-called “stay at home” increased consumption to stop visiting restaurants.

Two questions for the reader to validate this trend: Have you bought more organic products last year? Have you bought them because you can’t get the conventional product or prefer healthier foods? If you want to share your opinion, we invite you to write to us at [email protected].