Smooth, or rather Smoothie Sailing for Frozen Fruit Sales
Driven in no small part by the ongoing demand for smoothie beverages, growth in the frozen fruit market in the United States continues unabated. Chicago-based market research firm IRI reports that overall retail sales climbed 4.8% to surpass $244 million during the 12-week period ending August 7, while units rose 3.8% to top 48.3 million and volume advanced 5.1% to exceed 75.6 million.
Private label products dominated sales in the retail freezer, accounting for almost $158.5 million in value (+7%) during the period, as volume advanced 5.1% to 75.6 million. Dole Packaged Foods ranked as the top brand, ringing up almost $32 million in sales (-7%) with volume of nearly 10.54 million (-10.1%), followed by Jasper Wyman & Son at $14.2 million in sales (+20%) and volume of over 3.9 million.
While the penetration rate of frozen fruit is relatively low at 32.7%, it has risen from 26.8% last year, according to Mark Murai, vice president of strategy and field operations for Placentia, California-based Sunrise Growers.
“The most popular are strawberries, followed by blueberries and berry mixes. Vegetable and fruit mixes and super-food smoothies are also very popular, so much so that lately they have grown by 270%," Murai told conference attendees during the recently held Cibus Tec in Parma, Italy. “Sales of organic frozen fruit have grown by 37.1% this year alone."
Sunrise Growers, a subsidiary of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada-headquartered SunOpta Inc., is a major processor of conventional and organic IQF fruit supplied primarily to retail private label and foodservice customers in the United States. It maintains a global sourcing network and operates processing facilities in California, Kansas and Mexico that employ approximately 300 full-time and 2,000 seasonal workers.