When organic yields are only 50% to 70% of a conventional field, “that 30% is a huge cost factor,” he said.
Effort paying off
Growing organically isn’t easy, Seeley said.
“There’s a tremendous learning curve that you have to go through,” he said.
But he added that at The Nunes Co., the effort is paying off.
“We’re putting out better, more consistent product on a day-in, day-out basis,” he said.
Organic apple prices have been particularly strong this year as a result of tight supplies, Pobst said.
“It’s been a strong, demand-driven market for us this year,” she said. “We’re not really complaining about that.”
Still, she said, there are certain realities associated with the cost of organic production.
There are higher labor and material costs and increased shrink because growers don’t use conventional treatments to extend shelf life or storage life, she said.
“Not having those available to the organic producer and the organic marketer leaves us with a certain disadvantage (as far as) economies of scale go,” Pobst said.
She said she doubts the industry will ever see parity between organic and conventional produce.
“If we did,” she said, “our growers would be very disadvantaged. It would hurt them significantly.”
“The additional pennies at retail are what make the difference between keeping organic farmers able to do the work that they do and support their families,” she said.