The organic category may not be growing at the 25% rate it was a few years ago, but it’s still growing at a healthy rate, said Dan Canales, vice president of sales and marketing for Misionero Vegetables, Gonzales, Calif., which grows fall and winter vegetables in Yuma, Ariz.
Part of the continued increase is due to baby boomers adopting a more health-conscious lifestyle, he said.
Another reason is the leveling off of organic prices.
“At this point, we’ve all gotten very efficient at what we do out here in terms of processing and growing,” he said. “The price variance between (organic) and conventional really isn’t as wide as it was in the past.”
The company, which offers several value-added organic salads as well as washed and trimmed organic romaine, is enjoying “steady, healthy growth” in the organic category, he said.
Salinas, Calif.-based Pacific International Marketing has had an organic program in Yuma for 10 years, said Henry Dill, sales manager.
The company offers about 40 organic items, including iceberg lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, leaf items and romaine hearts.
One of the necessary parts of an organic program is the ability to offer a consistent supply, he said, “But that’s easier said than done.”
It’s a challenge, he said, but when a company has grown and packed organics long enough, it learns enough tricks of the trade to make it profitable.
Yuma-based Yuma Organic grows a variety of herbs, including dill, cilantro, parsley, rosemary and thyme, and has been doing good business, said co-owner Ernesto Amador.
“We had a pretty good year this year, except for a couple of months during the summer,” he said.
He’s not sure why business was so good during a recession, but he said, “I hope it stays that way.”
Growth in organic consumption probably is greater than conventional, Dill said.
That’s because hardcore organic consumers won’t deviate from their consumption patterns, and mainstream consumers seem to be giving organics a try, despite the poor economy.
“It just shows how tough it is to figure out the consumer,” Dill said.