(Oct. 9) Driven by demand for bagged salad blends, sales of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables rose 8% nationwide in the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, according to a speaker at the Alexandria, Va.-based International Fresh-cut Produce Association’s 10th Annual Fall Seminar, which took place Sept. 29-30 in Alexandria.

Sales of fresh-cut for the fiscal year reached nearly $4 billion, reported Craig Delaney, IFPA’s chairman and the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Ready Pac Produce Inc., Irwindale, Calif.

Bagged salads accounted for $2.4 billion of those sales, and grew 9% over the year before. Salad blends fared even better, jumping 17% over 2001 and tallying $1.1 billion in sales.

Organic and romaine-heart bagged salads also fared well, Delaney said. Organic accounted for just $151 million in sales, but grew 20% over the year before. Romaine hearts grew 12% and bagged $111 million in sales.

About 77% of U.S. households buy bagged salads, Delaney added.