Organic Potato, Onion Sales Continue Upward Trend

Published online: Nov 17, 2020 Articles Jim Offner
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Source: The Packer

Organic onion and potato sales continue to trend upward, even during the COVID-19 pandemic—and, perhaps because of the pandemic, marketers say.

“Organics are in high demand; organics are trending up,” said Jessica Peri, retail sales manager with Yerington, Nev.-based onion grower-shipper Peri & Sons Farms.

The same goes for potatoes, said Christine Lindner, marketing manager with Friesland, Wis.-based potato grower-shipper Alsum Farms & Produce Inc.

“Alsum Farms & Produce markets organic Wisconsin russet, red and gold potatoes in a bag and bulk options. We started our organics program in 2000 and see continued interest by millennials as an audience that embraces the organic potato category.”

Reidsville, Ga.-based Vidalia sweet onion grower-shipper Shuman Farms started shipping its RealSweet Organic Peruvian sweet onions in early October and will continue until the end of the season in early March, said John Shuman, president and CEO.

“Over the years, we have made an investment in our growing and packing facilities in Peru with the goal of providing organic sweet onions year-round,” he said. 

Organics are key part of a comprehensive sustainability program at Shuman Farms, he said.

“Last year, we changed the packaging of our organic bags, which allowed us to use a third less plastic while still maintaining the structural integrity of our bags. This year, we expanded that initiative and now all of our consumer bags are using the same lighter netting and thinner film.”

Organic sales started sluggishly in 2020, but they picked up as the year progressed, said Rachel Atkinson-Leach, category and brand manager with Bancroft, Wis.-based potato grower-shipper RPE Inc.

“Organics, which has been a segment that has been underperforming total category growth so far this year, has actually started to over-perform since the start of August,” she said. 

“We are primarily seeing over-performance in the organic small/fingerling segment, where Tasteful Selections is a leader in the space with a 45% share of the segment and growing by almost 60% in the past year, driven by new distribution and increased demand in the marketplace.”

Organics are gaining, but marketers say they still need to see that growth in its proper context.

“While the organic section continues to increase in the grocery stores, it is still a very small niche in the potato industry, representing less than 5% of overall production,” said Dana Rady, director of promotions, communication and consumer education with the Antigo-based Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association Inc. 

“It continues to gain market share, however, with sales increasing every year.”