Demand for organic garlic and herbs continues to increase, according to industry professionals.
“Organic demand (garlic) is continuing to increase, and we continue to expand our supplies,” said Louis Hymel, director of purchasing and marketing for Spice World Inc., Orlando, Fla.
Patsy Ross, vice president of marketing for Christopher Ranch, Gilroy, Calif., agreed organic demand is increasing rapidly.
“It’s our goal to be able to provide organic year-round, but it’s growing at a faster pace than we can grow, both in growing the segment and growing the actual garlic,” Ross said.
Organic garlic operations need organic soil and seed, and it can take time to make those arrangements.
“It’s been difficult to meet the demand,” she said.
It takes several years to get all the required organic certifications in place, she said.
Still, the company has seen its organic program grow by about 10%, Ross said.
“It’s a smaller part of our business, but it’s continuing to grow, and that’s exciting,” she said.
Joe Lane, a partner in The Garlic Co., Bakersfield, Calif., also has noticed a growing organic garlic market.
“We do both peeled and whole bulb fresh garlic and some organic purees, and I’d say that it’s not a large percent of our business, but it’s growing fairly fast within its category,” he said.
Still, it’s not rapid growth, according to Bruce Klein, director of marketing for Maurice A. Auerbach Inc., Secaucus, N.J.
“It grows a little bit, but demand is pretty stable (for the company’s organic products),” he said.
The demand for organic herbs grows alongside the demand for herbs in general, according to growers.
“We see growth in both conventional and organic,” said Howard Roeder, chief executive officer at HerbThyme Farms Inc., Perrysburg, Ohio.
Organic basil is the most popular herb option, according to Robert Schueller, director of public relations for World Variety Produce, Los Angeles.
“Basil is such a dominant herb that organic basil makes it on the list of top herbs as No. 8,” he said.
Andrew Walsh, chief executive officer of Vida Fresh Inc., Morro Bay, Calif., agreed organic herbs are growing.
“Demand at retail level seems to continue to move towards organic. Most large chains have organic programs at the store level now,” he said.
Still, the growth is steady, not dramatic.
“It’s increasing at a nice pace, but not going crazy,” Walsh said.
Camilo Penalosa, vice president of sales, marketing and procurement at Infinite Herbs & Specialties, Miami, said the demand for organic herbs is mostly in retail.
“In retail, organic is the majority, but in foodservice traditional is the majority,” he said.
The strong category demand has some challenges, however, as companies report an unfair playing field at times.
“Some companies are doing (organic herbs) properly, and some are not, presenting product at the marketplace at a price that isn’t sustainable at the proper level,” Walsh said.
“Herbs are unique because it has taken people longer to understand that things must be certified properly, so we’re working hard to educate consumers,” he said.