The third quarter of 2009 brought some marked improvement over the previous year in the volume of fresh produce sold at retail stores, according to the latest Fresh Facts on Retail report from the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation.

United retail report reveals gains in volume in the third quarter

Fruit volume sold in the third quarter rose by 6.7%, while vegetable volume increased 7.6%, according to a news release from the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association. Statistics revealed cherries were a standout performer, gaining 101% in volume (a 14.9% increase in sales dollars.

The report, produced in partnership with the West Dundee, Ill.-based Perishables Group and Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc., Coral Gables, Fla., indicated U.S. consumers boosted the volume of their purchases of fresh produce by nearly 7% compared with the same period a year ago.

The quarterly retail report measures sales volume and retail price trends for the top ten fruits and vegetables, in addition to value-added items, organic produce and other produce categories.

While volume gains were noted, discounts in the produce department made dollar sales comparisons less favorable, United Fresh officials said.

“While prices are down for many fruit and vegetable categories versus this time last year, it is positive to see the broader increase in volume,” said United Fresh president Tom Stenzel in the news release. “Consumers are returning to the fresh category and increasing the amount of fresh, healthy produce on their dinner tables.”

The report is available for a free download for United Fresh members and $50 for nonmembers. For more information about the report, the United Fresh news release suggested to contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education coordinator, at (202) 303-3400 ext. 405. For specific questions about numbers in the report, the news release said to contact Kelli Beckel at the Perishables Group at (773) 929-7013.