New Data Shows Sales Of Fruit In California Is On The Rise

If you're sinking your teeth into a deliciously sweet peach right now, chances are that juicy bite was brought to you by a California farmer. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Golden State produces over two-thirds of the fruit purchased in the United States, with a heavy emphasis on organic produce. Despite California's drought and pandemic-related production cost increases, Fruit Growers News reports a positive outlook from farmers who have seen steadily increasing sales with no signs of stopping.

According to The Shelby Report, the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic changed both our shopping and eating habits and increased the demand for healthy food options. Fresh produce sales went up by almost 40% as Covid-19 cases increased. Lockdowns and ongoing waves of infection that forced people to eat at home directly translated into increased demand and sales for California produce.

California farmers have been battling a number of challenges, from ongoing drought conditions to increased competition from Mexico for cheaper produce options. Farmers are familiar with resiliency and have made changes like reducing acreage, planting better-selling crops, and using tunnel houses with drip systems that use less water. Even in the face of these challenges and food price hikes, demand for fresh produce remains strong.

Fruit sales in California increase year over year

According to data provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, retail sales of fruit in California have followed a rhythmic pattern since 2019, with notable increases each year. Retail fruit sales that averaged $75 million in 2019 are now averaging $104 million in 2022, a 37% increase over three years.

A notable break in the sales rhythm came in March of 2020 that Supermarket Perimeter connects with the onset of the pandemic. Consumers hungry for healthy foods that offered an immune system boost drove demand for fruit as they stocked their fridges and freezers. The result of this spike in demand increased the average fruit sales by a whopping 23% from 2019 to 2020. The upward trend continued in 2021, with sales averaging at $96 million.

Daylight Foods attributes the Golden State's abundant produce selection to its varied climate regions and progressive growing and harvesting practices that provide year-round produce. Long summer days give way to California's most impressive harvest season, as crowd-pleasers like melons and stone fruits ripen in plenty. This explains the annual increase in July's fruit sales as produce lovers enjoy favored fruits at their peak. Produce Blue Book notes that healthy fruits are still in high demand, and the data showing a sales increase of 7.8% from 2021 to 2022 seems consistent with that assessment.