Strong sales numbers for organic salad mixes have Earthbound Farm, for one, hoping for more promotional activity at retail.
Organic salads rose 20% in dollar volume for the year ending Sept. 7 compared to 5% for conventionally grown, according to Nielsen Perishables Group total U.S. food data. Organics ranked among the fastest growing segments with single-serve bowls — also up 20% — and kits, up 12%.
“Nearly half of all conventional salad greens are sold on promotion, whereas organic salad greens aren’t seeing the kind of promotion you might expect given that they are the real growth drivers in the category,” said Samantha Cabaluna, vice president of communications and marketing for San Juan Bautista, Calif.-based Earthbound Farm.
“Dedicating more deal weeks to organic could realize even greater growth and bring new organic consumers into the fold,” she said.
Organic accounts for 22% of all salad sales.
“When you compare that with organic’s percentage of sales in all of food at 4.3%, it’s an impressive penetration,” Cabaluna said.
Though alternatives to lettuce are popping up everywhere in conventionally-grown mixes, organic shoppers were early and ardent advocates.
“Consumers are privy to the health benefit gained through dark, nutrient-dense leafy greens and organic greens,” said Tristan Simpson, senior director of marketing and corporate communications for Irwindale, Calif.-based Ready Pac Foods Inc.
Ready Pac responded to such demand through its Bistro Bowl and Bistro Organic lines. Ready Pac’s organics also include baby arugula, baby romaine, baby spinach and spring mix in the shipper’s peel-and-reseal clamshells.
Kale and other dark greens continue to attract interest among Earthbound Farm customers, Cabaluna said.
“The kale trend definitely continues,” she said. “We say ‘kale is the new bacon’ because it’s a nutrient-dense superstar. Now food celebrities have shown people how to prepare it so that it’s delicious, as opposed to just steamed or boiled or however people were eating it in the past.”