Organic demand slows in New York

At this point organic produce is estimated to make up about 7 percent of the U.S. produce market.

As such, it remains a niche market, though a growing one.

Jim Margiotta, president and owner of J. Margiotta Company BB #:169076 sees less of an impact from organics than previously, although he concedes that he’s a supplier of conventionally grown produce. “I don’t find people in our market are calling for it very much. It’s niche; it’s out there.

Seems like it has less momentum than it did before. The way it was a couple of years ago, it seemed that everyone was going to want everything that way,” although he believes this is no longer the case.

For his part, Charlie DiMaggio, president of Fres Co LLC, BB #:262433 said: “Organic product in general has become the popular buzzword across the food industry. While it has grown to a greater percentage than in years past, there still seems to be much confusion on the consumer end.

“Different marketing programs have used various terminologies,” DiMaggio continues, “which tend to cause confusion. An example of this is many consumers believe that hydro or indoor farms are organic because they do not use soil. True organic grown product is much more than its soil. You must consider seeds, water, containers, nutrients, and fertilizers used.”

DiMaggio continues: “Fres Co believes the trend to watch is product that is grown locally and what defines local and its true effect on our environment. Fres Co is actively pursuing [sourcing] our product locally. That being said, each commodity we supply has to stand on its own and go through analyses and standard checks.

“Is it better to buy locally from a farmer who has old machinery that leaves a bigger carbon footprint, or to buy farther away from a more modern grower, whose overall footprint has less impact on our environment? However, when doing analysis, we will tend to side with local producer in the tristate area when all data is equal.

“I guess as a responsible business owner, we have to come to our own conclusions,” DiMaggio said. “At Fres Co, we believe that by taking the time to look at it, we can achieve both a profitable and environmentally sound choice.”

This is a multi-part spotlight feature on New York produce adapted from the October 2019 issue of Produce Blueprints.

Richard Smoley, editor for Blue Book Services, Inc., has more than 40 years of experience in magazine writing and editing, and is the former managing editor of California Farmer magazine. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford universities, he has published eleven books.