Panelists detail opportunities in organic

John Pandol, director of special projects for Pandol Bros., asks a question after a panel discussion at the Global Organic Produce Expo about getting into that segment of the business. GOPEX is presented by The Packer and parent company Farm Journal. ( Ashley Nickle )

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Consumer demand and premium prices have sparked continuing interest in organic produce, and an education session Jan. 26 at the Global Organic Produce Expo provided a primer for companies wanting to get started in the segment.

A company can begin by creating an Organic System Plan, which explains how the organization plans to comply with organic production requirements.

The document should cover production and handling practices, inputs, monitoring, records, and procedures to prevent co-mingling with conventional produce or contact with prohibited substances, said Organic Trade Association farm policy director Nate Lewis.

Paperwork plays a major role in the organic world because product must be able to be tracked in order to verify that it is indeed organic, Lewis said.

Once a company finishes creating its Organic System Plan, it must submit the plan to a certifier and implement it. The certifier will review the plan, there will be an inspection to verify compliance, the inspection report will be reviewed by the certifier, and then a certification decision will be made, Lewis said.



Chris Bell, president of InterNatural Marketing, identified two areas of opportunity for organic.

Items on the “Dirty Dozen” list would be natural choices, given consumer concern about pesticide residues, Bell said.

Another area for growth could be specialty items — ginger, dragonfruit, acai berries.

“Why carry them in your store conventional and organic? Why not just carry organic?” Bell said. “The margins are already there, and I’m starting to see those choices being made. A lot of those high-end items, people are already starting to turn to the organics for those items.”




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