Growers report rising demand for herbs

11/03/2009 04:26:30 PM
Amy Fischbach

Another trend that some companies are seeing is an increased demand for organic herbs. Some retail chains demand 100% organic fresh herbs, said Walsh, whose company has been certified for organics since 1994. To meet this demand, the company plans to increase its organic herbs by 25%.

"Our organic product is growing each year, and we plan a significant increase for next season," he said.

The company has moved all of its organic and vegetable produce inside net and greenhouses. This has allowed the company to free up a lot of organic-certified land to increase organic herb production.

Infinite Herbs is producing a line of herbs in both conventional and organic. As prices go up, however, people are hesitant to move to organic due to the higher costs, Penalosa said.

"Organic in some market segments is demanded by consumers, but in other segments, it's the produce buyer who wants it not to lag behind other stores. It's not that his consumers demand it or really see a need for it."

Price point

Prices for both organic herbs and other herbs have increased, Penalosa said.

"Typically, the prices have increased (up) to 15%, depending upon the product and the origin," Penalosa said. "The farther they are from the U.S., the more the prices have gone up, due to freight (costs)."

However, Walsh said herb prices have stayed flat over the last few years.

"There are always some growers who can grow acres of herbs, pack them under a palm tree, and people will buy them," he said. "It's hard to compare those to growers like us, who are food-safety certified."


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