Organic produce offerings continue to gain ground

05/21/2014 03:41:00 PM
Jim Offner

U.S. sales of organic products were an estimated $28.4 billion in 2012 — more than 4% of total food sales — and will reach an estimated $35 billion in 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported in April 2014, citing data from the Nutrition Business Journal.

None of that comes as news to produce wholesalers in the Boston area.

“That category is increasing more and more all the tine,” said Ed Ring, owner of Ring Bros. Wholesale, a South Dennis, Mass.-based distributor that also operates two retail stores in the Boston metro area.

Certain items rack up more sales than others, Ring said, citing strawberries, blueberries, grapes and other fruits among the top movers.

“We just started organic fruit bowls and organic salads that we make in the store,” Ring said.

Organic consumers seem to pay more attention to how the products are grown than do consumers of conventionally grown items, Ring said.

“Usually the person who buys organic is more aware of the ingredients and what they’re buying,” he said.

Camilo Penalosa, vice president of business development and partner with Infinite Herbs, a Miami-based company that operates a branch in Everett, Mass., said organics keep his company hopping.

“We do a lot of organic,” he said. His company brings in organic herbs and vegetables from the West Coast as well as South America, he said.

“I think that there’s a growing demand,” he said. “There’s growing interest, but the people are still very price-oriented.”

 

Pricing

The price differential is an important consideration to some consumers, said Henry Wainer, president of New Bedford, Mass.-based wholesaler Sid Wainer & Son.

“Organics continues to grow as it becomes more competitive,” Wainer said.

Sid Wainer has been involved in the organics category for about 40 years, he said.

“We can do organics on the organic farms but it’s not where the volume is,” he said.

Overall, the category is showing growth in New England that reflects national trends, said Bob McGowan, president of the Northeast Produce Council in Burlington, Mass., and partner in Northeast Produce Sales, a Wellesley, Mass.-based wholesaler.

“Organics are certainly an important component, and many retailers are looking to extend their organic offerings,” he said.



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