After years of impressive growth, organic pineapple sales are sliding — at least in the short term.

“Up through 2008, organic sales had been growing very dramatically,” said Bil Goldfield, communications manager for Dole Fresh Fruit Co., Westlake Village, Calif.

“The sluggish economy has slowed down some of that growth, although we do find the demand for organics remains very strong with our large retail accounts and some specialty customers,” he said.

Organic pineapples from Dole, Rosemont, and other companies may soon have competition from Del Monte.

“Consumers can look forward to Del Monte Gold Extra Sweet Organic pineapple (by late spring/early summer,” Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce, Coral Gables, Fla., said earlier this year.

Banacol Corp., Coral Gables, is also working on organic pineapples on its Costa Rican farms.

“We’ve been asked by quite a few customers for an organic pine, and we see it as a niche for some of our higher-end customers,” said Bill Sheridan, executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Javier Saborio, Banacol’s director of logistics and operations in San Jose, Costa Rica, said the company is preparing the soil for about 90 acres of organic fruit, with the first harvest expected in 2010.

“By then, the market may be a whole different story,” said Sheridan. “It’s about being ready when the opportunity comes.”