(Nov. 25, 11:10 a.m.) DETROIT — Tom Maceri & Sons Inc. carries a full line of organic produce, supplying independent retailers such as Plum Market and doing regular fill-in business with Whole Foods.

But Sam Maceri Jr. acknowledges he’s concerned about how the weakening economy will affect demand for the premium products.

“That’s a growing segment for us,” he said, “and it’s a market trend. Now things may change with the economy and the way things are happening. It’s more pricey than conventional. We haven’t seen any resistance yet.”

Steve Serra, vice president of Serra Bros. Inc., thinks the pushback is coming.

“A lot of people, with the cost of it and money being tight, will veer away from it,” said Serra, whose company carries numerous organic items. “A lot of people say it’s the future, but I don’t think it’s cost effective.”

Operations manager Jerry McCormick said Coosemans Detroit dabbled in organics a few years ago, but the experiment was short-lived.

“There wasn’t enough response to warrant the time and effort it takes,” he said. “You really have to be dedicated to it to pay the price. Maybe we were too early.”

However, Jeff Abrash, president of Andrews Bros. Inc., said organics are only “in their infancy” in the Detroit market. His company offers organic raspberries, blackberries and strawberries.

Aunt Mid’s Produce Co. carries organics for its retail and wholesale customers and is beginning to see demand from restaurants as well, said president Dominic Riggio.

“It’s the next step for organics,” Riggio said. “Most things in this industry are born in foodservice. People see something in food shows and want to try it. Most varieties and exotics that have become mainstream items are born in foodservice and move to retail with demand.

“Organics are backward. It was born in retail, and interest is growing in foodservice.”

Ron Stewart, president of foodservice distributor Simon & Leeman Corp., also is seeing more requests for organic produce, but he said there are challenges.

“It’s increasing all the time,” he said. “It’s one of those things customers say they want, but are they willing to pay for it? The price isn’t competitive with conventional.”

Sean Walsh, director of produce and floral for Grand Rapids-based Spartan Stores Inc., said the retailer’s organic offerings vary depending on the demographics of stores.

“However, all stores have a significant organic offering as compared to just a few years ago,” he said. “We haven't seen the demand decline drastically. However, the growth path the category was on has flattened, leading me to believe there are fewer consumers entering the category.”