Antle Artisan Organic romaine is part of the organic program at Tanimura & Antle. ( Courtesy Tanimura & Antle )

Grower-shippers anticipate continued growth in the leafy greens and value-added salad categories, and many say they plan to expand their product lines with new organic offerings.

Mann Packing Co. Inc., Salinas, Calif., offers nine organic items for retail customers, and the company has an Organic Arcadian Harvest line for foodservice, said Loree Dowse, director of creative marketing.

Organic Arcadian Harvest, organic sugar snap peas and slaw blends — Organic Super Blend and Organic Broccoli Cole Slaw — all have seen impressive growth during the past couple of years, she said.

“We are continuing to see growth on both the retail and foodservice sides of the business,” Dowse said.

Salinas-based Tanimura & Antle Inc. kicked off its organic program a year ago and continues to expand it, said Kyla Oberman, director of marketing.

The company’s organic product line includes broccoli, cauliflower and romaine hearts along with Tanimura & Antle Artisan organic romaine and Tanimura & Antle Artisan organic sweet Italian red onions, she said.

This summer, the firm is launching organic sweet gem and organic iceberg lettuce, she said.

“The organic category continues to grow for us as customers become aware or are reintroduced to Tanimura & Antle as a supplier of premium organic fresh produce,” said Chris Glynn, director of organics.

“We are still seeing nice demand in our core vegetable items, and we are excited to continue to increase our volumes on our existing items, but looking for the next items that customers are looking for,” he said.

The organic program at Pacific International Marketing Inc. in Salinas mirrors its conventional line and includes organic red, green leaf, butter and romaine lettuce and romaine hearts, said Amanda Fleming, organic sales representative.

The organic line includes additional garden items, like chards, beets, kales and parsleys, she said.

Broccoli, cauliflower, celery and romaine hearts are the bestselling organic items for Pacific International Marketing, she said, and the program continues to grow.

“Every year we are increasing our acreage,” Fleming said.

Salinas-based Ippolito International LP sells some organic salads along with kale and asparagus, said Henry Dill, vice president of sales.

“It’s something that is slowly growing for us,” he said.

The company just started its organic asparagus deal about a year ago go, so it’s hard to measure category growth, he said.

But he added that, “In general, the organic product lines are growing.”

Many customers are looking for more organic items, he said, and they’ll buy organic “as long as the price works.”

Dole Food Co., Westlake Village, Calif., offers a full line of organic products, including four organic salad blends and four organic salad kits in the U.S., said Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications.

Bestselling organic items are baby spinach, spring mix and 50/50 blend.

“The value added organic category continues to grow, and is up 5.9% year-to-date as of June 16,” he said.

The top-selling organic items are baby spinach, spring mix, 50/50 mix and baby arugula.

Salinas-based Fresh Express offers 13 organic branded items, said Michael Golderman, marketing brand leader.

The top-selling organic items are baby spinach, spring mix, 50/50 mix and baby arugula, he said.

“Organic sales are beginning to level off,” Golderman said.

In 2013-14, the growth rate was in the 15% to 20% range, he said. Today it’s closer to 3% to 4%.

He said he expected the value-added salad category to show “modest growth to maintain its 23% dollar share.”

In 2013-14, the growth rate was in the 15% to 20% range, he said. Today it’s closer to 3% to 4%.

Celery is the organic mainstay for Oxnard, Calif.-based Deardorff Family Farms, said Luke Patruno, who handles organic sales for the company.

The firm also offers organic broccoli and cauliflower.

Celery is grown in Salinas, Calif., from late June until November, and leaf items are grown there until early October.

Deardorff grows bunch product in Oxnard from fall until spring.

“We’re looking ahead for a good, solid summer,” he said.

 
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