Sales performance of organic produce varied widely across the 20 top categories in 2022, according to the latest State of Organic Produce report from Organic Produce Network.
As previously reported, total organic produce sales reached $9.4 billion in 2022, up 3% from the previous year, while volume sales declined 3.7%. This is still behind conventional year-over-year sales (7.9%) and volume performance (-1.1%), but marks a solid year of growth for organic.
While rising prices helped many organic categories grow last year, others lost ground in sales and volume.
Onions lead sales growth
The top categories in year-over-year organic sales growth were onions (15.4%), cucumbers (11.3%), and potatoes (10.7%). Organic onions also solidified their status as a staple vegetable across the U.S. last year, with consistent double-digit sales growth across all four regions.
The above categories also had notable price premiums compared to their conventional counterparts — onions were priced at 61% more per pound, cucumbers were 138% more per pound, and potatoes cost twice as much per pound.
The best-performing organic categories in terms of total retail sales were berries ($1.56 billion), packaged salads ($1.55 billion), and apples ($648 million).
Despite a significant price premium compared to its conventional form (115% more), organic lettuce sales declined 3.1% in 2022. Sales of organic celery (-2.3%) and bell peppers (-2.1%) also dropped.
Grapes, herbs and spices grow volume
In terms of volume, grapes (6.9%), herbs and spices (6.5%), and cucumbers (2.7%) were the top-performing organic categories in year-over-year growth. It’s worth noting that volume sales for herbs and spices varied wildly by region — the category grew 19.7% in the West, yet fell 9.4% in the Northeast.
Bananas were again the top volume mover overall, almost reaching 509 million pounds sold at retail in 2022, followed by carrots (250 million pounds) and berries (239 million pounds). Organic bananas also went from a 25% price premium over conventional in 2021 to 32% in 2022.
Meanwhile, lettuce (-12.7%), avocados (-11.4%), and apples (-10.3%) experienced the biggest volume decreases over the year. But these categories had their share of misfortunes. Lettuce dealt with aphids in the desert due to warmer temperatures in the first half of the year, and, in the second half, INSV (impatiens necrotic spot virus) threatened the crop in the Salinas Valley. There was a below-normal volume of avocados coming out of Mexico in the first half of the year, and a small Washington crop of apples diminished the overall apple supply.
See the full report for more data on organic produce sales in 2022.