Organic produce generally isn’t as popular among foodservice operators as it is at retail, largely because of its price.
Still, several suppliers offer a number of organic products for their foodservice customers, and many report at least a small uptick in sales.
Church Brothers Farms, Salinas, Calif., launched its organic salad offerings about a year ago, said Kori Tuggle, vice president of marketing and business development.
“We’ve started and have kept it simple with three ‘staple’ organic salad items: wild arugula, spinach and spring mix,” she said.
The company’s organic demand is increasing “modestly” among foodservice customers, Tuggle said.
“I believe operators are still looking to offer organic items. However it has to meet their food cost limitations,” she said.
Boskovich Farms Inc., Oxnard, Calif., offers a full line of organic vegetables “with sustained growth projected for 2017,” said Mike O’Leary, vice president of sales and marketing for the fresh-cut division.
Sales of organic baby spinach have held steady, and it continues to be popular at foodservice, he said.
Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc., Coral Gables, Fla., continues to expand its product offerings to meet the demands of consumers who prefer organic produce, including avocados and bananas, said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing.
“We supply different offerings to different segments or venues,” he said. “For instance, organic avocados are sold to two of the casual dining chains we supply.”
Demand for Arcadian Harvest Organic from Mann Packing Co. Inc., Salinas, Calif., continues to grow, said Gina Nucci, director of corporate marketing.
The product is particularly popular at universities and organic-focused restaurants as well as retailers, like Whole Foods salad bars, she said.
Arcadian Harvest Organic, available year-round, combines four lettuce varieties, like green leaf, red leaf, tangos, lollo rosa, batavia and oak leaf, according to the company’s website.
In the avocado category, Robb Bertels, vice president of marketing for Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif., said there currently is a “little bit of demand” for organic product at foodservice, especially from specialty restaurants. But he said demand seems to be growing.
“Millennials have a certain passion for organic,” he said, so he expects that trend to result in increased organic sales.
Mission Produce ships organic avocados in white boxes with purple accents so that the product stands out in distribution centers or storage areas, he said, distinguishing it from boxes of conventional fruit.
D’Arrigo Bros. Co., Salinas, Calif., offers organic versions of its Andy Boy romaine hearts and Andy Boy broccoli rabe, said Claudia Pizarro-Villalobos, director of marketing and culinary.
Andy Boy organic romaine hearts come in cartons of 12 three-count packs and seven six-count packs, and Andy Boy organic broccoli rabe comes in 1-pound bunches.
Story by Tom Burfield