Organic berries remain popular with consumers, with growing interest for both strawberries and blueberries.
“Organic berry demand, especially strawberries, is on the upswing,” said Jim Grabowski, director of marketing, Well-Pict Berries, for Watsonville, Calif.
Cindy Jewell, director of marketing for Watsonville, Calif.-based California Giant Berry Farms Inc., has seen the company’s entire organic berry programs grow, but agreed most of that growth is seen in the strawberry deal.
“Our organic program is really focused on strawberries because it’s the most-consumed berry,” she said.
Still, the growth is significant, and other berries are likely to follow these trends in time.
Jewell mentioned Costco as one market that’s really showing an increased interest in organic berries.
“They are really trying to step up their organic offerings,” she said.
Others report increase in organic blueberry demand.
“Organic blueberry consumption is rising faster than regular blueberries because consumers are looking to eat healthier,” said Chloe Varennes, marketing manager, Gourmet Trading Co., Redondo Beach, Calif.
Gourmet Trading Company offers organic blueberries out of Chile in the fall and the beginning of the year, Varennes said in an e-mail.
With the increase in demand, growers have to decide whether to plant more organic acres.
“I would venture to say the organic berry demand might be growing a bit faster than organic supply right now. It remains to be seen if this growth can be sustained to warrant adding additional organic acreage,” Grabowski said.
Jewell said California Giant is expanding its organic program to meet demand.
“Each year, we’re adding more organic acreage based on the demand we see from our customers,” Jewell said.
Cat McKenzie, marketing director for the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission, has also noticed growers stepping up to meet the demand for organic berries.
“We are seeing a rise in demand for organic raspberries and blackberries, and we’re seeing a corresponding effort on the part of growers to look into that,” she said.