Overall US produce sales are soaring, but supermarkets are still losing market share to Wal-Mart, according to government figures.

The US Department of Commerce reports retail produce sales of $52.1bn last year, a 78% jump from 1997, and organics and new government dietary guidelines will continue to push that growth.

Retail Forward consultants reported 72% of shoppers said they purchased fruits and vegetables most often from a supermarket, down from 77% in 2000, while mass discounters like Wal-Mart sold to 12% of shoppers in 2002, compared with 9% two years earlier. Supermarkets can compete on quality and freshness, if new distribution channels can reduce delivery time, offer regional foods and variety, and overcome fragmented supply chains.