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    United Fresh Year-End Recap Finds Higher Retails Driving Weekly Produce Sales

    While per-store produce department weekly sales during the fourth quarter of 2008 rose 2.3 percent over the previous year, most likely due to retail prices of 6 percent above the prior year, volume of produce movement dipped 3.6 percent during the fourth quarter vs. the previous year, according to the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation’s latest quarterly research report.

    While per-store produce department weekly sales during the fourth quarter of 2008 rose 2.3 percent over the previous year, most likely due to retail prices of 6 percent above the prior year, volume of produce movement dipped 3.6 percent during the fourth quarter vs. the previous year, according to the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation’s latest quarterly research report.

    Sponsored by Del Monte Fresh Produce and produced in partnership with the Perishables Group, the latest installment of the “Fresh Facts on Retail” report recaps retail sales trends for the top 10 fruits and vegetables, value-added and convenience produce items, emerging market opportunities such as fresh meals and salads sold in delis, and organic produce. The 2008 year-end report also includes analysis of the impact current economic conditions may be having on the produce market.

    Among other key findings of the report:

    --Of the top 10 fruits, only grapes, strawberries and avocados were up in volume year-over-year.
    --Among the top 10 vegetables, not a single commodity showed volume increases.
    --Value-added fruits showed a decline of 6.5 percent in dollars and 6 percent in volume.
    --Value-added vegetables showed a decline of 4.9 percent in dollars, but a larger 10 percent decline in volume.
    --Interestingly, organic fruit and vegetables still showed slight increases in volume, with fruit up 5.6 percent and vegetables up 0.3 percent.
    --Looking across 2008, peppers, berries and bananas were the only categories to post positive growth every month of the year.

    "The economy is clearly having an impact on these Q4 volume declines," said United Fresh SVP Victoria Backer. "But this won’t be the end of the story, as produce companies and retailers are adapting to ways to move more produce even in these difficult times." Becker added that senior executives from the Perishables Group will be discussing the findings and additional research on ways to promote produce in the current economy during the upcoming United Fresh 2009 convention in Las Vegas.

    Fresh Facts on Retail can be downloaded free of charge to all United Fresh members, and for $50 to non-members. For more information or to offer suggestions for future category spotlights, please contact Patrick Delaney at 202-303-3400.

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