Foodservice operators aren’t heavy buyers of organic fruits and vegetables, but organic produce suppliers haven’t given up on them.
Bob Lucy, partner at Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc., Fallbrook, Calif., said he is surprised that more restaurant chains don’t order organic avocados.
“We have tried to grow that business, but it’s been a little bit of a disappointment that there isn’t more of that,” he said.
Some restaurant operators and foodservice distributors apparently believe that there’s no need to buy organic avocados because of their high ranking on lists of pesticide-free fruits.
“I’m amazed that there’s not a chef in Los Angeles or San Francisco or New York that is totally specifying organic,” he said.
He noted one restaurant that serves organic greens with organic tomatoes topped by a slice of organic avocado.
“I’m surprised there is not more of that,” Lucy said.
Foodservice sales for organic potatoes haven’t exploded for Eagle Eye Produce, Idaho Falls, but Coleman Oswald, director of sales, said he has been receiving more inquiries about them.
The company packs 50- to 100-count foodservice packs mostly for foodservice distributors, he said.
“There’s definitely a small market for them,” Oswald said.
Some restaurants will pay a little extra to have organic produce, “but they are really few and far between,” said Colleen Goto, vice president of sales and marketing for FreshPoint, Vancouver.
Foodservice tends to prefer local more than anything, she said.
“If it’s local and organic, then you’re good,” she said.
If restaurant owners are going to pay added costs, they’re more likely to spend their money on chicken or fish than fruits or vegetables, she said.
Those who do buy organic produce tend to buy fruit, like berries, and some salad items, like celery, she said.
“In many cases, in the foodservice world, local trumps organic,” agreed Michael Guptill, sales manager for Boston-based Gold Bell Inc.