(Nov. 15) The race to meet the convenience needs of consumers applies just as much to organics as it does to conventionally grown produce, marketers said.

“That’s a nice growth area for us,” said Caren Wilcox, executive director of the Greenfield, Mass.-based Organic Trade Association. “We have a really nice increase in some of those lines.”

The onset of value-added products is a result of the growth in the organics category, said Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Wenatchee, Wash.-based fruit grower-shipper Stemilt Growers Inc.

“I think you’ll see more organic product in value-added as the supplies pick up,” he said.

However, he cautioned, everything hinges on supplies.

“As supplies step up, you’ll be seeing more fresh organic products, like you see in the salad category,” he said.

In some cases, value-added is nothing new to the organic category, said John Musser, chief executive officer of East Freetown, Mass.-based Jonathan’s Organics.

“The salads, of course, are identical — the only differences are the labeling on it,” he said. “And, there are some, almost item by item, organic products. You see bagged organic apples, just like you see bagged conventionals.”

Not that organics don’t have to play catch-up in other areas.

“The cut fruit is coming, and the biggest push for that is ready-to-eat packaging now for grape tomatoes, for example, and that’s all going to be organic,” said Rick Feighery, sales director for Philadelphia-based distributor Procacci Bros. Sales Corp. “And we’re going to have retail packs that can go in the lunch boxes every day. We’ll have reduced bag sizes for children.”

In general, the ideas that have worked well on the conventional side are doable in organics, said Maureen Royal, sales and marketing director for Sedro-Woolley, Wash.-based CF Fresh.

“We’re specific to organic, but so many people we compete with have both the conventional and organic, and they’re running very similar value-added products that are parallel,” she said.

However, there may be more of a stringent standard in pre-cutting, as far as handling and shelf life are concerned, she said.