SAN ANTONIO – As the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic escalated over the first week of April, fresh produce sales remained elevated.
Data from 210 Analytics and IRI for the week ending on April 5, shows that fresh produce sales were up 14.2% over the same timeframe in 2019—that’s up from an 8.1% increase the week of March 29.
Also gaining momentum, the fresh vegetable category was up 21.4% and the fresh fruit category was up 7.4%. The entire fresh produce department brought in $170 million in sales for the week, $129 million of which was generated by vegetable sales.
The rise above sales for the week of March 29 is a trend across the entire fresh perimeter. Fresh perimeter sales were up 15.8% the week of April 5 compared to 11.8% the week of March 29.
“Sales for the first week in April were likely influenced by the earlier Easter and a higher everyday demand that is driving a new baseline that sits well above the old normal,” said Joe Watson, vice president of membership and engagement for the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association (PMA). “At the same time, sales results must be seen against the backdrop of many stores having shortened opening hours, closed service departments, metered entry of shoppers, purchase limitations on popular items and continued out-of-stocks for others. Also think about the effects of cancelled events like March Madness on popular produce items used in entertaining.”
Sales for the individual products within the fruit and vegetable categories are reflected in the charts below in sales increases for weeks through March and April and total sales for the week of April 5.
While fresh produce is showing a strong performance, sales remain extremely elevated for frozen and shelf-stable fruits and vegetables the week of April 5. Frozen fruits were up 42.9%, frozen vegetables were up 48.6%, canned fruits saw a 19.6% increase and canned vegetable increased by 70.2%.