Organic grower-shippers expect to see expanded options and exotic offerings in the category.
Addie Pobst, coordinator of imports, sustainability, organic integrity and food safety for Sedro-Woolley, Wash.-based Viva Tierra Organic Inc., expects to see more variety options, especially for apples.
“I think we’ll continue to see shifting varieties,” Pobst said, mentioning fuji, honeycrisp and ambrosia as current popular options.
An exotic variety, Pink Pearl, also was very popular with consumers this year, Pobst said.
“It’s a pink-on-the-inside apple, and it’s very exciting. We had a great season with those,” she said.
Others agree variety should increase as the category moves forward.
“I think we’ll see more specialty items,” said Scott Mabs, chief executive officer for Homegrown Organic Farms, Porterville, Calif.
With specialties such as persimmons, Mabs said retailers have to make a choice whether they’ll carry both organic and conventional items.
“They have to ask if that makes sense because of the small movement on each item,” he said.
As a result, Mabs expects retailers may decide to offer just the organic item.
“We may see people switch over to use only the organic option if that makes sense from a price point perspective,” he said.
Diane Dempster, organic specialist for Seattle-based wholesaler Charlie’s Produce, agrees.
“Even though the price is a little higher, consumers are happy to buy an organic collard green or something like that. Retailers realize this and are beginning to skip the conventional and carry the organic option instead,” she said.
In addition to more variety, Pobst also expects to see packaging options increase.
“I think we’ll see more diverse packing styles, such as the 2-pound bag as an additional option to the traditional 3-pound bag,” she said.
Other packing options, such as tote bags, also offer convenience, and Pobst expects those options to continue to gain in diversity and popularity.
“It’s a way to add convenience to a shopper so they can throw something in the cart and have a week’s supply of apples,” she said.
Paul Newman, organic salesman for Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers, Wenatchee, Wash., expects to see organic trends follow consumer preferences for conventional items.
“The organic category has a tendency to follow whatever trends the conventional market sees,” he said.
For apples, that means traditional reds and golds are slightly less popular with consumers right now.
“I think, for the most part, reds and golds are a little difficult, but they still exist in the market, although they are sometimes used as a color break or in display design more than to meet consumer trends,” Newman said.