Organic produce experts say consumers are eating their daily allotment of fruits and vegetables in increasingly creative and innovative ways, adding new sales opportunities for retailers.
“The biggest increase that I see now — and see even getting bigger — is the organic juice category,” says Keith Cox, produce category manager for K-VA-T Food Stores, headquartered in Abingdon, VA. “We actually picked up a new line — an organic kombucha — that has done extremely well. We have tried some other types of organic juice in the past that didn’t do very well at all.”
Angela Jagiello, associate director of product development for the Organic Trade Association (OTA), Washington, D.C., says, “Fermented items are popular, including vegetables and beverages. A great example of an organic innovator in the space is Farmhouse Culture, Watsonville, CA (which makes probiotic-rich, gut-healthy foods, including fermented kraut). Also, value-added items continue to proliferate — from pre-packed vegetable meal starter kits including stir fries, to ready-to-cook vegetables dices, rices, noodles and fries.”
Millennials, credited with the push for more knowledge about the food they eat, are widely predicted to help fuel growth within the organic sector.
“OTA research has consistently shown that organic becomes more important to shoppers when they have children,” says Jagiello. “While 25 percent of Millennials are currently parents, that figure is expected to climb to 80 percent in the next 10 to 15 years. It’s a potential game-changer for organic.”
K-VA-T’s Cox also cites Baby Boomers as an important demographic among Food City organic produce shoppers. “They’re over 50, and paying more attention than the 30- and 40-somethings. Most of them are well educated, and they’re looking at their retirement years and want to live a long time. They’re making better eating choices than they did 20 years ago. And they’re also the ones who have the most money.”
Knobel also gives Boomers a nod. “I think Millennials are a factor, but no different from the Boomers. I think the Boomers have more money than the Millennials. And they definitely have a health component to their decision-making as well.”