Sales of organic foods in the grocery fresh perimeter continue to climb, and more and more suppliers are getting on the bandwagon.

U.S. organic sales topped $21 billion in sales in a 52-week period ending late last year, up nearly 9% from the previous 52-week period, according to Nielsen Homescan household projected data.

Some groups are increasing their organic consumption more than others. Millennials spent 14% more on organic products compared to the previous 52-week period and Hispanic consumers 13% more, according to Nielsen.

The days of organics being considered a niche market are long over. Organics are fully in the mainstream now. Some of the biggest category increases tracked by Nielsen included bread, up 19% to $466 million; and fresh chicken, up 11% to $499 million.

Nielsen also reported recently that 86% of millennials said they would pay more for products with organic/natural ingredients. (The number for baby boomers  — 59%  — while significantly lower, is still considerable.)


Retail renaissance…

Suppliers of grocery fresh perimeter foods are noticing an uptick in organic across the board. But some retailers have been particularly aggressive in pursuing the market.

In 2018, Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons rolled out its virtual O Organics Market store concept in San Francisco and Washington. Powered by Instacart, O Organics provides customers a selection of more than 3,800 organic, natural and “better for you” foods and beverages that can be delivered in as little as two hours.

Open Nature Sockeye Salmon, O Organics Mission Figs and Dave’s Killer Bread were some of the products Albertsons highlighted during the concept’s unveiling.

German-based discount grocery retailer Aldi, meanwhile, listed organic as one of the three focuses of its latest product upgrade. (Fresh and easy-to-prepare are the others.) Under the upgrade, 20% of all products sold in Aldi stores will be new compared to last year at the same time.

Organic meats, salad bowls, sliced fruits and gourmet cheeses are among the new products Aldi consumers are already starting to see on store shelves.

Lakewood, Colorado-based chain Natural Grocers, meanwhile, has launched a new line of premium private label products, many of them organic.

Organic grass-fed cheese and beef products are among the perimeter items in the line with expected 2019 rollouts.

The growth in its organic sales is a major driver behind Phoenix-based organic and natural foods specialist Sprouts Farmers Market’s decision to make a huge investment in new stores this year. Sprouts, which currently operates more than 300 stores in 19 states, plans to open about 30 stores in 2019 in California, Florida, Washington, Texas and Las Vegas.


…and suppliers to meet the demand

Hand-in-hand with the increased retail commitment to selling more organics in the fresh perimeter is an upsurge in new organic products from perimeter suppliers.

Hummus specialist Blue Moose of Boulder, for instance, has introduced two new snack products.

Boulder, Colorado-based Blue Moose is now shipping both its Organic on the Go Hummus Snack Pack and Organic Moose Minis 100 Calorie Single Serve Cups. the shift in trends towards snacking, we’re filling a void in the marketplace to ensure our customers don’t have to sacrifice convenience for quality or taste,” says Tenley Satre, president of Blue Moose. “We’re thrilled to be able to deliver nutrient dense organic snacks that you can truly feel good about.”

Organic On The Go Hummus Snack Packs pair the highest quality, best tasting, hummus you can buy with organic carrot sticks, not pretzels or chips. The nutrient packed dehydrated carrot sticks are made by Rhythm Superfoods. With 150 calories, 5g protein and 0g added sugar per container, this snack delivers real nutrition. Available in three flavors: Original, Roasted Red Pepper and Lemon Turmeric.

Organic Moose Minis 100 Calorie Single Serve Cups are convenient grab-and-go containers of creamy hummus that you can pair with your own dipper. Available in three flavors: Original, Roasted Red Pepper and Lemon Turmeric.

As with all products in Blue Moose's hummus portfolio, the new snacks are USDA Organic Certified, Non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Gluten-Free, vegan and contain no preservatives. They uniquely use cold pressure, also known as HPP, to keep their snacks fresh and to maintain key vitamins and minerals.

In the salsa category, meanwhile, Fresh Cravings, a division of Phoenix-based FoodStory Brands, has launched its Fresh Cravings Organic Salsa in Publix and GreenWise Markets stores in Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia. 

Sold chilled in the produce section, the salsas are available in Restaurant Style, Medium and Hot, as well as mild and medium heat varieties in chunky.

The salsa is also available as a grab-and-go option with the company's organic restaurant-style tortilla chips.

Berlin-based meal kit company HelloFresh recently expanded its offerings to draw more consumers, and one of its main commitments is to offering more organic items. To that end, HelloFresh in 2018 acquired Boulder, Colorado-based Green Chef, which specializes in organic and other specialty meal plans.


Companies large and small get on board

At the Winter Fancy Food Show earlier this year in San Francisco, San Francisco-based Loca Food LLC unveiled its new plant-based organic cheese-style dip. The dip is made with organic and locally sourced potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, green chilies, onion, seasonings and vitamin-rich nutritional yeast, which provides a cheesy flavor. A squeeze of organic lemon juice serves as a natural preservative.

At the other end of the spectrum from a small specialty company like Loca is Philadelphia-based premium deli meat specialist Dietz & Watson, which has updated its Originals line of snack product to include more organic offerings.

The Originals line  —  which debuted two years ago and includes prepackaged meats, cheeses, franks and sausages  —  now includes snacking cheeses, beef jerky, alive pouches, fire-roasted vegetables and more.

The line's three varieties of 2.2-oz pouched olives include Seasoned, Green and Citrus. Also included are classic proteins, such as Truffle Salami, Sopressata, Pepper Salami, Chorizo, Genoa Salami and an Herb de Provence Salami. In addition, there  are 4-oz packs of meat and cheese medallion and mini paninos that include pepperoni, Genoa salami or prosciutto wrapped over mozzarella cheese.

All of the items are organic and NAE (no antibiotics ever) and come in resealable packaging.

In other news from an industry stalwart, Medina, Ohio-based Sandridge Food Corp. recently received its organic certification for soups. Organic versions of Chicken Noodle, Tomato Bisque and Vegetable Chili are among the company’s current offerings for perimeter prepared foods departments.