Courtesy Organic Trade AssociationKyle Mathison (right), partner in Stemilt Growers, talks with Canadian food bloggers about organic apple picking in a Stemilt orchard in Wenatchee, Wash. Early sales figures for 2012 have the organic industry optimistic about year-on-year growth. Official organic sales figures from 2012 won’t be finalized until around the end of March, but the industry anticipates strong year-on-year improvement.
“Indications are that organic food sales continued to have strong growth during 2012 and are likely to have met the projected 9% increase over 2011 sales predicted in the Organic Trade Association’s 2012 Organic Industry Survey,” said Christine Bushway, executive director of the Brattleboro, Vt.-based OTA.
Marketing agents say a good report wouldn’t surprise them.
“Before we even evaluated our consumer input and their specific requests for organic product from a sales perspective, it was doing very well,” said Amber Kosinsky, marketing director for Wish Farms, an organic and conventional grower-shipper based in Plant City, Fla.
Watsonville, Calif.-based Lakeside Organic Gardens, which has only organics, reported a 30% boost in sales from 2011 to 2012.
“People are continuing to realize the benefits of choosing organic,” said Brian Peixoto, sales manager.
Organics are selling particularly well in packages, said Bruce Klein, marketing director with Maurice A. Auerbach Inc., based in Secaucus, N.J.
“With the supermarket retailers having both conventional and organic product out there, you really need organic product packaged, and it does do very well,” Klein said.
A positive OTA survey would be the continuation of a trend, said Matt Seeley, vice president of marketing with Salinas, Calif.-based vegetable grower-shipper The Nunes Co.
“Obviously, the organics over the past three to four years have become the focal point of where we see growth opportunities,” he said.
The category may have slowed a bit during the recession of 2008-09, but its upward momentum has continued, Seeley said.
“You’re not going to see a turning back of the clock in movement of organics. It’s only going to trend upward,” he said.
The Nunes Co. has planned accordingly, he said.
“It’s not easy going through this, converting conventional-grown land, conventional harvesting and conventional cultural practices,” he said.
But the process continues, he said.
“We do see this is the way that the business is moving,” he said.
Organics-heavy Washington state is seeing the same growth rates other areas of the U.S. are experiencing, said Matt Roberts, sales manager at Sedro-Woolley, Wash.-based organics shipper CF Fresh Inc.