Produce is the “most sought after supermarket item,” according to Produce Retailer Magazine Editor Pamela Riemenschneider, keynote speaker for the Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association (CFVGA) Third Annual Conference Feb. 21, in Denver.
Riemenschneider provided conferees a sneak preview of the 2017 Fresh Trends national survey results, which showed that Romaine lettuce for the first time has surpassed the old stand-by of Iceberg as the most purchased lettuce variety. In addition to lettuce, Colorado produce in the top five by number of acres raised-potatoes, onions, sweet corn and peaches-continues to enjoy strong demand with new varieties gaining in popularity.
The survey showed that purple produce is all the rage, including purple potatoes and purple carrots, both of which are grown in Colorado. Another trend expected to grow is consumption of elote or Mexican sweet corn. Elotes are prepared using roasted sweet corn and then dowsing the ears with mayonnaise, cheese, lime juice and chile powder.
In addition, Riemenschneider reported that trend watchers say heirloom tomatoes, rainbow carrots, variety lettuce, roast chiles, watermelon radishes (especially in restaurants) and beets are expected to gain in popularity in the coming years. All are grown in Colorado.
The survey also tracked the importance of organic in the produce section of retail outlets.
“Every demographic group in the survey showed an interest in organic produce,” said Riemenschneider. “One-third said adding organic produce is ‘typical’ for them and 56 percent said they would buy more organic produce if the price difference between organic and conventional produce were less.”
Despite the interest, organic sales represent just 7.5 percent of all produce department retail sales. This is an increase over 4.5 percent of sales in 2011. Top organic produce items purchased include packaged salad, berries, apples, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, bananas, avocados, citrus and grapes.
“Learning about the latest in consumer trends is fascinating and will also be important to Colorado growers as they make planting decisions,” said CFVGA President Robert Sakata. “This is especially true for growers selling direct to the public and those raising specialized produce.”
The CFVGA continues to grow and is now comprised of more than 210 members, including growers of all sizes and types of production throughout the state, as well as representatives of allied industries. The Colorado fruit and vegetable growing sector contributes nearly $300 million to Colorado at the farm gate and is multiplied as it goes through the distribution chain. Over 60,000 Colorado acres are in fruit and vegetable production.
ICYMI: You can watch select sessions from the 3rd Annual Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Conference online courtesy of The BARN & the CFVGA @ https://livestream.com/BarnMedia/CFVGA2017