Supermarket Perimeter - January 2021 - 43

Organic Navel orange volumes grew nearly 20% at retail over the 52
weeks ending Nov. 22, versus the same period last year.
Organic lemons also perform well at retail, Ward said, with a 4%
increase in sales during the same period.
Angela Jagiello, director of education and insights for the Organic
Trade Association, Greenfield, Mass., agreed.
" I anticipate a really robust citrus season this year. Availability and
variety are both looking good. And, because of citrus' association with
immune health, it will likely be a go-to for shoppers for the next several
months. "
First on the shelves from Sunkist during this California season are
organic navels, lemons and limes, with specialty citrus following
close behind.
This year's specialty lineup for the co-op includes cara cara
oranges, blood oranges, royal mandarins, daisy mandarins, murcott
tangerines and minneola tangelos.
Sunkist has increased its organic citrus production by 18% to meet
consumer demand this season, Ward said.
Looking ahead, Sunkist's retail partners are already planning their
organic promotions for next year, and orders are already underway
for organic California Star Ruby grapefruit available in the spring and
organic Valencia oranges available in the summer, she added.
Building its organic identify has been a key goal for Sunkist,
Ward said.
" We've been a proud provider of USDA-certified organic citrus-and
marketing organic citrus-for 15 years, and we continue to strategically
innovate and provide the best solutions and resources possible to our
retail partners. "
To aid retailers in marketing organic citrus, Sunkist continues to
promote its organic square bins to help increase shelf space within a
small footprint, Ward said.
And new this season, the co-op is preparing to launch a new
packaging design for its full organic citrus portfolio. The new packaging
will debut in 2021 and features the Sunkist lollipop, and the design
extends to cartons, giro bags, secondary display bins and headers.

Double-digit pandemic growth

SUNKIST GROWERS, GREY - STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Pandemic buying hit US grocery stores hard in March and April, and
organic fruits and vegetables have seen double-digit increases each
quarter since, with few signs of slowing, Jagiello said.
As a result, the full supply chain is working to maintain stock levels,
while keeping workers healthy. Items with longer shelf lives have done
well, Jagiello said (think carrots and apples).
The organic growth rate was well above that for conventional
produce, and Jagiello said there are several reasons why:
x Organic is food for home. Restaurant dining is down dramatically, and
many school and cafeterias and foodservice venues are closed.
x Shoppers are thinking more about their personal health and trying to
bolster immune systems.
x This year, there's also been more of a light shone on the essential
workers who produce our food and stock our supermarkets. Organic
takes a lighter toll on the workers who plant, harvest and process the
food by exposing them and their families to fewer toxic chemicals.
There are more than 700 chemicals prohibited in organic production.
supermarketperimeter.com

Q&A with BRIAN DEY
Brian Dey is senior merchandiser and natural stores
coordinator for Ephrata, Pa.-based Four Seasons
Produce, a produce distributor supplying organic,
local and conventional fresh produce.
How has Four Seasons' organic produce mix
changed in recent years?
As more demand increases and the higher interest
in consumers desire to eat healthier grows, more
and more things are added to that mix. New
varieties of apples, specialty citrus, and value-added
produce come into play every year, so these get
added to our mix and subsequently put into our
retailers.
What are your top organic sellers, and has that
changed over the years?
Value-added (packaged salads, cuts, convenience
bags, etc.) is one that has grown exponentially over
the years and continues to year after year. A lot of
people want to eat healthy but are short on time, so
these grab-and-go items are easy sells. In terms of
whole commodities, it's bananas, apples, the berry
category as a whole, greens and the carrot category,
and this has been relatively stable for some time
now. Some commodities, such as avocados and
mangoes, however, that used to be " back of the
aisle " type items, have crept their way into a lot of
carts now. In fact, in some areas, avocados are a
top 5 selling item in departments. The tropical and
citrus categories are strong and movement in these
lines has increased in volume over the years.
How would you characterize demand for
organic produce?
Super high, especially as we sit in a global pandemic
now. Consumers want to, and in some cases need
to, eat healthier to maintain good health and strong
immune systems. Eating fresh organic produce is
a simple way to do just that. Additionally, some
of the outside things that customers used to be
able to enjoy, such as going out to dinner, just
are not happening due to the pandemic. A lot of
that expendable income is being used to upgrade
produce purchases to organic and cook and eat
healthy meals at home. And the price disparity that
grown produce has shrunk considerably.

JANUARY 2021 - 43


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