May 21, 2019
Organic potato sales up, but still well behind overall organic produce market
Organic food sales totaled nearly $47.9 billion in the U.S. in 2018, according to a recent report by the Organic Trade Association. Fruits and vegetables accounted for 36.2% of organic food sales ($17.4 billion). About 15% of total fruit and vegetables sold were organic, a share that has doubled over the past decade.
Organic accounts for a far smaller portion of the fresh potato market than the national average for produce, however. According to scan data, only 4% of fresh potato sales are organic.
Although still a small portion of overall sales, the organic potato market share has nearly doubled since 2014. Fresh Solutions Network (FSN) is a group of independent potato and onion grower-packers that sell under various brands, including Side Delights. FSN sells organic russet, red and yellow potatoes under the Side Delights Farmer’s Table Organic label.
FSN President and CEO Kathleen Triou told Organic Produce Network that there is a wide disparity among retailers as to how well organic potatoes sell. She also noted that the organic supply lacks “consistency,” therefore, making it difficult for retailers to devote consistent floor space to the category.
Obviously, without the benefits of pest and weed control chemicals, growing organic is a challenge for potato farmers. Until organic potato demand reaches higher levels, growers, like Mack Farms in Florida, likely will proceed cautiously.