Organic Produce Marketing Survey

OPMS-Slide

Groundbreaking CFSA Study Finds $7 Million Gap Between Supply and Demand for Key Organic Crops

> DOWNLOAD the full Organic Produce Marketing Survey (.pdf)

Report Overview

In the spring of 2011, CFSA conducted an extensive survey of the wholesalers, retailers and value-added processors in the Carolinas that represent the most accessible marketing channels for local growers of organic produce. The survey focused on the volume of organic sales for thirteen selected fruit and vegetable crops that can be grown in the Carolinas using organic practices with significant demand from retailers and wholesalers.

 Vegetables Surveyed

Broccoli Cabbage (all)
Sweet Potatoes Tomatoes
Strawberries Summer Squash
Bell Peppers (all colors) Watermelons
Cucumbers Sweet Corn
Leaf Lettuce
(all, not iceberg)
Irish Potatoes
(red, white and yellow)
Spinach

Survey results on the current demand for these organic crops were compared to the USDA’s 2011 Certified Organic Production Survey data for NC and additional sources, as needed.

These results verify that there is a considerable gap between consumer demand and current supply for all of the organic products surveyed (with the exception of sweet potatoes) during the months in which these crops can be grown in North Carolina.  Our results found a supply gap of several million pounds of produce (see chart below), equaling over $7,000,000 in potential revenue.  Broccoli and tomatoes were identified as having the largest supply gap.

 

The Gap Between Supply and Demand for Key Organic Fruits and Vegetables in NC

Produce
Item

Carolina
Demand (lbs)

Carolina
Supply (lbs)

Gap
(lbs)

Gap/week of growing season (lbs)

Broccoli

1,412,783

83,100

1,329,683

25,570

Tomatoes

1,914,462

767,100

1,147,362

29,098

Irish Potatoes

1,049,281

94,700

954,581

21,979  

Leaf Lettuce

688,344

58,200

630,144

14,556

Summer Squash

472,085

89,920

382,165

17,482

Cabbage

1,109,895

274,800

835,095

27,570

Sweet Corn

337,862

11,200

326,662

37,504

Spinach

548,978

2,000

546,978

21,391

Watermelon

262,160

32,700

229,460

17,463

Strawberries

182,229

33,900

148,329

11,410

Cucumbers

174,030

46,380

127,650

7,324

Bell Peppers

246,213

156,400

89,813

4,109

The chart above shows (1) the demand for these organic items during the months in which they can be grown in North Carolina, (2) the most recent available production numbers for these items, (3) the gap between demand and supply in pounds and (4) the gap per week of growing season.

 

What does this all mean?
In order to displace imported organic produce and meet the demand for these organic items, North Carolina farmers would need to increase production by more than 400 percent.

Using an estimated average price paid to organic growers during the height of each item’s growing season, the dollar value of this gap is as follows:

Produce Item

Value of gap

Broccoli

$2,089,500

Tomatoes

$1,577,620

Irish Potatoes

$801,850

Leaf Lettuce

$712,062

Spinach

$531,972

Cabbage

$437,000

Summer Squash

$382,165

Strawberries

$296,660

Sweet Corn

$171,500

Cucumbers

$153,180

Bell Peppers

$107,775

Watermelon

$54,180

Total

$7,315,464

Why does this matter for farmers?
Carolina farmers continue to face challenges in seizing a greater share of the states’ organic market. With concrete data on the scope and market potential for Carolina-grown organic produce, farmers have the potential to increase their access to financing, take advantage of government cost-share programs and develop realistic business and expansion plans.

What is CFSA doing about it?
Our goal is to help NC and SC farmers take advantage of this supply gap. Results from this important research will inform the development of Enterprise Budgets for relevant organic crop rotations, as well as workshops and guidance documents to assist farmers in developing enterprise budgets specific to their operations. Our Farm Services team offers organic transition programs to farmers in the Carolinas interested in accessing the organic produce market. This includes our Organic Certification Consulting Services and working with our on-staff Technical Service Provider to write a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP 138).

This report was funded by a Specialty Crops Block grant through the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

gtb_agriculture

 

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