With the economy recovering, sales of organic produce are surging again in many fresh produce categories, and import New Zealand fruits are no exception.

Steve Woodyear-Smith, kiwi-fruit category director for Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group, said sales of organic New Zealand kiwifruit for the company year to date are double last year’s.

“There’s a resurgence in organic across the board,” Woodyear-Smith said. “People are prepared to go back and let their altruistic side take over and pay a premium for something they believe in.”

Demand for organic New Zealand kiwifruit has been strong thus far in North America in 2010, said Karen Brux, North American marketing representa-tive for Zespri International, Tauranga, New Zealand, the exclusive marketer of New Zealand kiwifruit exported to North America.

“I’m surprised by the strength of the organic market,” Brux said. “It seems a lot stronger than last year.”

Organic kiwifruit is projected to make up a similar percentage of total kiwifruit shipments from New Zealand to North America this season, Brux said.

Through the first week of June, Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group was seeing strong de-mand for organic galas, fujis and braeburns from New Zealand, said David Nelley, pipfruit category manager.

The company also expected to have organic Jazz, granny smith and Pink Ladies by mid-June, he said.

Consumers, Nelley said, are showing signs of loosening the purse strings a bit, particularly when they’re shopping at retailers like Whole Foods.

For core organic shoppers, it doesn’t take much of an economic uptick to bring them back.

“People who choose organic are devotees,” Nelley said. “That’s where they spend their discretionary income.”

Organic fruit imports from New Zealand will likely be down this year because of the weather, said Tom Richardson, general manager of Wenatchee, Wash.-based Giumarra of Wenatchee.

“They had a very cold, wet spring,” Richardson said.

Those conditions increase the likelihood of pest, he said.