“We’ve seen more and more of our retailers take our advice and expand their sales of fresh basil during the summer, where they’ve gone with fresh basil plants and they’re merchandising them near the tomatoes,” Caplan said.
Sales of fresh herbs are bound to rise further as more consumers learn about them, Schueller said.
The category does have challenges, though, particularly with shelf-life issues, Meyer said.
“The herb category is not easy,” he said. “They’re delicate. They’re leafy by nature. They don’t have an incredibly long shelf life. It’s not as easy as it looks.”
The hard work has paid off with double-digit annual growth the last few years at Pescadero, Calif.-based Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo Inc., said Marina Pace, marketing spokeswoman for the herb grower-shipper.
“Basil leads the category while thyme, rosemary and mint are also strong sellers,” she said.
“Clamshells are still the preferred pack over bunches.”