Steffy of Four Seasons believes organic demand is continuing to grow, estimating sales at natural food stores are growing more than 10% yearly.
Organic citrus suppliers — both of navels and varietals — in freeze-hit areas of California lost 30% to 50% of their supplies, Steffy said.
While the marketing space for some organic commodities is becoming limited because of greater supply, Herrick said there is still very strong demand for organic mandarins and other niche citrus varieties.
Marketers said organic apples — sold from storage from Washington state and British Columbia until Argentina apple imports begin in March — are a very hot item.
“There is just not enough supply out there to meet demand, and it made prices really spike at the wholesale level,” Steffy said.
Strong demand and insufficient supply characterized the organic apple market in Washington, said Brianna Shales, communications manager for Stemilt Growers, Wenatchee, Wash.
Shales said the company can’t really push organic promotions because of limited supplies. She said high returns for organic apples and pears may spur more growers to consider transitioning orchards to organic production.
The average terminal market price for fuji organic apples from Washington was $57 per carton in mid-January, up from about $43 per carton the same time in 2013. The average f.o.b. price per carton for organic apples (all varieties) was $38 per carton in mid-January this year, up from an average of just $31 per carton last year at the same time.