While some commodities have thrived for North Carolina growers in an organic format, others have not, and many grower-shippers haven’t experimented yet with the category.
About 30% of the tomatoes grown in North Carolina and other states by Plant City, Fla.-based Ag-Mart Produce Inc., which does business as Santa Sweets Inc., are organic, said J.M. Procacci, the company’s chief operating officer.
Despite the economic downturn, which has more and more consumers looking for value in the produce department, organics continue to be a steady seller, Procacci said.
Growers in eastern North Carolina have had some success growing organic potatoes and sweet potatoes, and even a few strawberries, said Curtis Smith, president of TC Smith Produce Farm Inc., Seven Springs, N.C.
But the humid weather in the region, among other factors, has kept TC Smith, a grower of melons and strawberries, from taking the organic plunge, Smith said.
“My concern is, can you get the price to offset the reduction in yields,” he said. “You don’t just start growing it overnight. It’ a long process.”
That said, he hasn’t ruled it out entirely for the future.
“We’ve thought about it some,” he said.
None of the North Carolina-grown watermelons, cantaloupes, sprite melons, strawberries and romaine grown or marketed by Wilson, N.C.-based Fresh-Pik are organic, said James Sharp, the company’s president.
But that could change.
“We don’t market organic, but I am curious about it,” he said. “We’re not in a position to do it now, but we’re keeping a watchful eye on it. I’m sure it has its place.”