This category includes establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of fresh fruits and vegetables. They are frequently found in public or municipal markets or as roadside stands. Establishments that grow fruits and vegetables and sell them at roadside stands, however, are classified in a range of agricultural crop production areas.
Fruit and Vegetable Markets
Retail fruit and vegetable markets were bolstered in the early 2000s by several positive trends. Consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables continued to grow more rapidly than that of processed fruits and vegetables, a trend that began during the last quarter of the twentieth century. Fresh vegetable per capita consumption grew at an annual average rate of 1.3 percent during that period, twice that for processed vegetables, while fresh fruit consumption increased at an average annual rate of nearly 1 percent, three times that for processed fruits. Per capita consumption was 126.7 pounds for fresh fruits and 195.6 pounds for fresh vegetables, respectively, in 2003. Meanwhile, sales of organic produce reached $5.1 billion in 2005, approached $6.0 billion in 2006, and were expected to jump to $6.4 billion in 2007.
Riding these trends, many fruit and vegetable markets diversified in the early 2000s, adding organically-grown varieties, fresh cut flower sections, and spaces for plants, firewood, birdseed, and items of seasonal, ethnic, and regional interest, as well as promotions for locally-grown produce. In addition, produce stores followed the lead of supermarkets by featuring fresh-cut fruits and vegetables (especially varieties of lettuce) in plastic bags and containers. Extremely popular with consumers, fresh-cut vegetables registered $4.7 billion in sales in 2005, up 8 percent over 2004.
Nevertheless, sales in fruit and vegetable markets continued to be dwarfed by those of supermarkets in the early 2000s. A national survey conducted by Opinion Dynamics for the Produce Marketing Association revealed that 54 percent of consumers preferred supermarkets as their outlet for fresh fruits and vegetables during seasonal peaks, while 37 percent bought their produce from local farm stands or small fruit and vegetable stores. Convenience was cited as the major factor in favor of supermarkets, even though 76 percent of respondents agreed that produce sold at farm stands and specialized stores was fresher. Some 45...