The economic meltdown of the past year may have slowed sales of organic pineapples, but the demand continues to rise.

“As a result of current economic conditions, organic sales did not grow at the same pace as they have in the past,” said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce, Coral Gables, Fla.

“While there is still a demand for organic pineapple,” Christou said, “premium prices have limited its growth. As demand rebounds, we will increase supplies of our Del Monte Gold Extra Sweet Organic pineapples from Costa Rica across North America.”

Bil Goldfield, communications manager for Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Fresh Fruit Co., said his company has already seen a growth in demand for its Rain Forest Alliance and Fair Trade-certified organic pineapples, which it offers to interested customers.

“Demand for organics in 2009 was strong,” he said, “and 2010 has already showed that demand to be even stronger.”

With the economy turning around, World Variety Produce, Los Angeles, hopes to see growth of 10% this year, compared to a 9% increase in 2009, said Robert Schueller, director of public relations.

The company has carried organic pineapples for more than a decade, Schueller said. Currently, about 80% come from Costa Rica, he said, with 20% from Peru.

“We supply every major market across the country and 50% of our retailers carry organic pineapples,” he said, “but you don’t see a lot of them on end caps.”

Other companies, meanwhile, are still considering entering the organic market at some point, but remain cautious.

“We’re working on it,” said Bill Sheridan, vice president of Banacol, Coral Gables, “but we haven’t yet been able to secure enough volume for the year.”

Kevin Manning, senior sales executive for grower/shipper Rosemont Farms Corp. in Boca Raton, Fla., said the company is also looking into organics, but doesn’t yet have a large enough customer base to warrant a program.

“At present, not many of our customers are into organics,” Manning said, “but we want to double our current volume, hopefully over the next year or so, which will allow us to do organics.”