Popularity of Organic Herbs Growing

Cal-Organic Farms recommends merchandising organic herbs as part of the organic vegetable wet rack.

Organic herb offerings are increasingly available throughout the year.

Originally printed in the May 2024 issue of Produce Business.

Consumer demand for produce that has not been contaminated by pesticides, fertilizers or GMOs has led to an uptick in sales of organic herbs. In addition, the growing interest in ethnic cuisines and authentic flavors, as well as the increased popularity of plant-based diets and a growing knowledge of the health benefits of herbs, are also driving organic herb sales.

Organic herb offerings were once seasonal, however they are increasingly available throughout the year.

Phil Harlov, vice president of sales and marketing at Infinite Herbs & Specialties in Miami, FL, says they grow organic herbs year-round, however, they are still most popular during the holidays, particularly Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Maria Brous, director of communications at Publix Super Markets Inc., Lakeland, FL, agrees. “Demand for organic herbs is highest during the holidays, with Thanksgiving being the holiday with the greatest demand.”

The popularity of organic herbs around the holidays presents retailers with opportunities to cross-merchandise via displays — turkey basters, pie dishes, meat thermometers and roasting pans — alongside organic herbs, such as thyme, rosemary and sage, so consumers know what they need to purchase to prepare a successful holiday meal. Similar displays can work at Easter and Passover.

“While it is true that organic herb sales in the weeks before Thanksgiving and Christmas are typically 60% to 80% higher than other weeks of the year, fresh organic herbs are available year-round and are an ideal accompaniment to dishes any time of year,” says David Bright, vice president of marketing, Cal-Organic Farms in Bakersfield, CA.

“Fresh organic herbs are available year-round and are an ideal accompaniment to dishes any time of year.”

— David Bright, Cal-Organic Farms, Bakersfield, CA

Cal-Organic Farms sells fresh organic cilantro, curly parsley, Italian parsley, dill, fennel and green onions all year long.

For TendWell Farm in Asheville, NC, availability depends on each particular organic herb, says co-owner, Danielle Hutchison. Tendwell Farm’s organic fennel is available from June to July and again from September to October; and organic Italian parsley and curly parsley are available from June through the end of October. However, Hutchison says, “we are currently expanding our growing locations in order to meet consumer demand for year-round availability.”

In the spring and summer, many consumers attempt to grow their own herbs, which can affect sales. “While we typically don’t experience an off-season, during the summer months, there might be a slight decrease in sales, with many people growing their own herbs or buying from local farmers markets and farms,” says Infinite Herbs’ Harlov.


Since fresh herbs tend to be more delicate than other produce in the wet rack, retailers must provide proper humidity, temperature control and misting, particularly for organic bunched and bulk herbs so that the herbs maintain the best appearance. Pushing purchases via sales velocity is also important.

“The longer organic herbs sit on the shelf, the less appealing they appear to shoppers,” says Bright of Cal-Organic Farms. “Pricing should be set to help encourage trial by non-users and keep past organic herb shoppers coming back for more. This will limit shrinkage and provide consumers with the best produce experience once they get the herbs home.”

At Publix, Brous says organic herbs are merchandised under refrigeration in the wall case. However, she says, basil also does well off refrigeration.

Signage can also draw attention to the many benefits of organic herbs and help to boost sales. “To get the best pricing to maximize sales, retailers need to highlight the unique qualities and benefits of organic herbs, such as their superior taste, their many health benefits, and the importance of farm practices and sustainability,” says Harlov.

Whether organic herbs are displayed alongside conventional herbs is up to individual retailers and depends on what works for their customers.

“The retailers that we have relationships with promote and display organic herb varieties separate from conventional herbs,” says Hutchison, of TendWell Farms. “Our herbs are grown in the mountains of western North Carolina, so we include branding graphics and pictures of our products that grow among our picturesque landscape that retailers can include in their displays.”

TendWell Farm grows its herbs in the mountains of western North Carolina, so branding graphics and pictures of its products are included in retail displays.

Whether organic herbs are displayed alongside conventional herbs is up to individual retailers and depends on what works for their customers.

Harlov says it depends on the retailer, whether organic is merchandised with conventional. “Retailers who only order organic herbs keep them within the organic section of the produce department. But some retailers who purchase both conventional and organic herbs will merchandise them together.”

“We recommend merchandising organic herbs as part of the organic vegetable wet rack,” counters Bright. “Shopper demand for organic vegetables justifies a destination in the produce section where all organic fruits and vegetables are merchandised together.”

Brous agrees. “We promote organic and conventional herbs separately and display them separately. Basil, in particular, is a familiar herb among consumers, and it demands its own promotional display.”


Because herbs help to season so many meals, there are many ways to cross-merchandise organic herbs with other products. For example, organic basil, one of the most popular herbs thanks to its flavor and familiarity, can be positioned alongside organic oregano, parsley, tomatoes and garlic, or on a display that pushes spaghetti sauce and pasta products.

Creating displays that include recipe cards and all the ingredients needed in a particular recipe is another great way to boost sales, not only for the organic herbs specified in the recipe, but also for the other ingredients that make up the meal.

Another way to boost sales is to provide recipe cards that are outside of the usual meal plans. Today’s consumers are interested in exploring new cuisines with unfamiliar organic seasonings. Recipe cards make it easy for shoppers to try unfamiliar cuisines and help to turn them into new fans of a wide array of organic herbs.

“During the holidays, stack organic herbs with recipe cards on its own holiday display. Or include a mint julep recipe alongside organic mint during the week of the Kentucky Derby,” says Harlov of Infinite Herbs. “Summer barbecue recipes and salads are also ways to increase organic herb sales during that time of year.”

Bright of Cal-Organic Farms agrees. “Recipe cards and serving suggestions are great ways to get shoppers interested in organic herbs. Each herb variety can bring something special to a salad, side dish, soup or main course. The unique combination of color, flavor and texture of organic herbs can elevate the ordinary into something special with very little effort on the part of the consumer.”

Bright also says mix-and-match promotions are perfect for organic herbs and encourage shoppers to try something new.

Bundling organic herbs can also increase sales and introduce shoppers to the many uses of herbs. For example, promote poultry by bundling a celery stalk with organic herbs such as parsley, thyme, marjoram, tarragon and a bay leaf. Bundle organic rosemary, thyme, savory, mint and parsley for lamb dishes, and sage, thyme and marjoram for pork recipes. Organic dill and tarragon are great when bundled with lemon for seafood meals.

Organic herbs can also be sold as potted live plants in retail stores.

Organic herbs can also be sold as potted live plants in retail stores. Displaying the plants with recipe cards and tips on cultivating the herbs is a great way to introduce consumers to unfamiliar herbs.
In addition, including organic herbs in prepackaged meals is another promotional way to introduce shoppers to their varied flavors and boost sales as a result.

Finally, since today’s consumer is increasingly concerned about healthy choices and is savvy about organic farming practices, signage at herb displays that lists the health benefits of each organic herb is another way to educate shoppers on unfamiliar herbs.

With consumers’ growing interests in organic farming, unique cuisines and authentic seasonings, retailers can expect organic herbs to continue to grow in popularity, and should take advantage of the opportunities to push organic herb sales.