Unlike the conventional citrus category, organic navels have not been cannibalized by the mandarins, Stair said.
“As best as we can see, specialty varieties are perceived as something very different from standard fruit, like navels, so there’s room for both,” he said.
Mandarins tend to complement the navel category rather than cut into sales, he added.
“Consumers like a variety of organic citrus in winter.”
A controversial study released by Stanford University this summer that indicated organic produce is not more nutritious than conventional didn’t seem to have much of an impact on organic citrus growers or their customers.
Most people who buy organic produce to avoid potential pesticide residue and to conserve the environment and promote sustainability, shippers said.
“I don’t believe that, for the consumer, whether organic is more nutritional or less nutritional plays into a lot of the decision-making process,” Mabs said.
He said grower-shippers do not use added nutritional value as a selling point for organic produce.
Some organic buyers believe organic produce is more nutritious, Stair said, while others simply want fruits and vegetables with no trace amounts of pesticides.
Pacific Organic Produce has promoted organics as “good for the body and good for the environment,” he said, but has not made nutrition claims.
Taft said he does not contest the report.
“Our contention has always been that organic farming is better for the earth, better for the world and more sustainable,” he said. “The report does not change that.”
Some fans of organic produce have claimed that it tastes better or is more nutritious than conventional, but not Eco-Farm.
“Our big interest wasn’t in that,” Taft said. “It’s the stewardship of the earth.”
None of the growers reported any impact on sales as a result of the report.