Fresh fruit and organic produce sales are riding high in the latest snapshot of U.S. retail performance.

Retail fresh fruit sales were up 5.3% for the quarter ending June 30, while vegetable sales were lagging 1.4% behind year-ago levels, according to the latest United Fresh Produce Association FreshFacts report.

The second quarter 2012 report, released in partnership by United Fresh with Del Monte Fresh Produce and the Nielsen Perishables Group, showed total produce sales were up 2.9% for the period compared with a year ago, with volume up 1.9% and the average retail price up 0.9%.

The report also continued strong growth for organic produce, with a 14.6% sales gain for organic vegetables and a 20.3% sales increase for organic fruit in the second quarter. For the period, the report said that organic vegetable sales accounted for 3.2% of total produce department sales, with organic fruit comprising 2.1% of total produce sales.

Top performances

With fruit sales up 5.3%, fruit volume for the quarter ending June 30 was up 1.6% compared with the same period a year ago, The average price for fresh fruit was 3.6% higher than a year ago.

Among the top ten fruit categories, highest sales increases were noted for cherries (+12.5%), avocados (+11.7%), berries (+10%), specialty fruit (+9.4%) and apples (+7.8%). Weakest sales for fruit categories were melons (-1.3%) and citrus (-5.9%).

Avocados experienced a 48% increase in volume compared with the second quarter of 2011, while cherry volume was up 24% for the quarter. Stone fruit and melons showed respective declines in volume of 9.4% and 6.9% in the quarter.

Despite a 1.4% increase in volume, fresh vegetable sales dipped 1.4% because of a 2.7% decline in average prices for the quarter compared with the same period a year ago. Mushrooms enjoyed a 3.1% rise in sales and fresh corn was up 7.1% for the quarter, but potatoes (-2.2%), lettuce (-6.5%), and tomatoes (-12.4%) showed the biggest sales declines compared with a year ago.

Weekly volume was up 5.7% for fresh corn and 2.8% for mushrooms, while volume declines were recorded for onions (-2.5%), potato (-1.7%) and tomatoes (-0.8%).

The FreshFacts report is free to United Fresh members, with a $50 charge for non-members.

Contact Shannon Young, United Fresh education manager, at 202-303-3400 ext. 405 or, for information on how to obtain the report.