As the fresh organic produce category grows in popularity, so does processed organic fruits and vegetables.
“The two areas are increasing at a pretty similar trajectory,” said Addie Pobst, coordinator of imports, sustainability, organic integrity and food safety, Viva Tierra Organic Inc., Sedro-Woolley, Wash.
“The demand for organic juice and sliced apples seems to parallel the demand for whole organic apples at retail,” Pobst said.
In fact, she said the trend is related to the idea that organic shoppers are pretty loyal in their purchasing patterns.
“If consumers want organic fruit, they also want organic juice,” Pobst said.
The health of the processed market is a good thing for fresh suppliers, because it gives them an outlet for fruit that can’t be sold at retail.
“Apples that have blemishes or color issues supply that market, whether for juicers or slicers,” said Roger Pepperl, marketing director of Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee, Wash.
Pepperl said those apples go to baby food makers, cereal companies, and many other areas of the market.
“It’s good for us because apple juice is used as an additive in a lot of things because it blends well, and we’ve seen the organic side of that be a very healthy market,” he said.
In fact, Pepperl said the processed market pays a premium for those organic apples.
“It pays a lot better than conventional because we’re seeing that people can’t get enough of those organic apples. It shows the amount of growth they have in their products,” he said.
Jim Roberts, vice president of sales with Naples, Fla.-based berry grower-shipper said the demand for frozen organic berries is also extremely high.
“Naturipe Foods, our sister company, offers frozen berries and they are consistently sold out on organics,” he said. “Non-fresh items like baby food or frozen berries are really driving significant demand.”
In fact, Roberts said the price spread between conventional and organic frozen berries is even greater than it is on the fresh side.
“It’s just really strong demand, and it’s all related to the overall consumer demand for organic options,” he said.