Overall, the price differential between organics and conventional may still be too high, but on certain commodities the spread is such that organics are gaining ground. Nick Pacia, president at A.J. Trucco, Inc., says he’s selling more organic kiwis on the market this year.
“We’re planning to increase our organic kiwi program by 20 to 30 percent from last year,” Pacia commented. “We’re also planning to add other commodities little by little. While some organic commodities are off the chart, organic kiwis are at a good price point compared to conventional.”
Part of the demand, Pacia reflects, is due to news, increasing health-consciousness, and concern over recalled conventional commodities. “People are talking more about no GMOs (for further information about a non-GMO alternative for seed developers, see this issue’s front feature “TILLING: GMNO”), no fertilizers and pesticides, and that’s increasing awareness
of the organic option,” he notes. “The economy helps, but more important is major retailers carrying organics, which increases public awareness. The negative media on recalls has been pushing the demand for organic commodities as well.”
Hunts Point continues to lead the country and much of the world in volume. Trends continue to arise with organics, exotic or specialty produce, and demand for greenhouse commodities. An example of the latter is a huge rooftop greenhouse in Brooklyn run by Bright Farms, an urban greenhouse company with locations in cities across the United States.
“The local movement is good, but it’s not moving the needle,” D’Arrigo contends. “If that rooftop does 1 million pounds of greens in a year, that’s 20 to 40 truckloads, depending on the commodity. We’re doing 600 to 1,000 trailerloads a day at the market, and that’s only half of the supply; the other half goes directly to chains or foodservice.”
Regardless of the trendiness of greenhouse or locally-grown produce, both are part of the impetus to supply fresh fruit and vegetables to retailers, restaurants, and consumers. The sheer volume of the Hunts Point market, not to mention the diversity of the areas it serves, will keep the attention of the industry for years to come.