Wholesale distributor Albert's Organics, headquartered in Santa Cruz, CA, has
focused exclusively on organics since the day the company began in 1982.
Simcha Weinstein, director of marketing, said that Albert’s carries a complete
and full selection of well over 300 produce items.
"Currently we are promoting organic blueberries from Chile and organic
mangos from Peru," he said. “We’re also promoting winter citrus, but we often
work on getting our customers excited about the non-seasonal items from
southlands that offer a bit of a taste of summer during the cold winter
Albert’s dedicated national procurement team sources all its products
nationally and internationally. The company’s line is distributed by its eight
distribution centers in the United States.
“We also place a strong emphasis on locally and regionally grown food, and
our buyers at each division do an excellent job of working with growers that
are local to their areas,” Mr. Weinstein added. We service all categories — from
retailers to foodservice and industrial customers. When Albert’s began, the
majority of its customers were natural foods stores. Today we have a nice
balance in our customer base of natural food stores, chain supermarkets,
restaurants and foodservice groups, as well as industrial operations.”
Mr. Weinstein acknowledged that the past three years have been tough for
the American economy, but he said that indications and forecasts from most
economists suggest there will be an uptick in 2011.
“That’s good news for everyone,” he said. “Throughout this economic
downturn, the organic industry has performed better than most. Sure,
shoppers adjusted their buying patterns, and numbers weren’t as strong for
the overall industry as they had been in recent years, but most ailing
industries would have been quite pleased with the overall performance of the
For retailers, according to Mr. Weinstein, the past three years presented
several economic challenges. As unemployment rose, fewer people had extra
money for food. Even those whose jobs appeared stable and lives remained
financially unaffected pulled back in spending, out of a natural cautiousness
“These factors contributed to a slowing, and in most cases, a decrease in
sales,” he added. “Retailers observed that even those who continued with
organic and natural food purchases, their shopping patterns changed. Instead
of asparagus twice a week it was broccoli and zucchini. Many shoppers had to
make tough choices like continuing to purchase organic food when it came to
the staple items like bananas, broccoli and lettuces, but buying conventional
when it came to more luxury items such as exotic fruit or asparagus. These
small changes had an impact on the market. Even as the economy shows a
slow gradual incline, it takes longer for individual markets to respond.
Retailers who keenly observed that this was far more than just a temporary
phase began to see it more as a long-term adjustment. Those companies are
Mr. Weinstein said that the locally grown movement is strong, and will most
likely continue to be so moving forward. Shoppers of organic foods in general
prefer their products to leave as small a carbon footprint as possible, and
local foods adhere to that principle.
“In the larger discussion, it is not uncommon for local to get pitted against
organic, as if they are somehow rivals and shoppers must choose between one
or the other,” he added. “This is a false battle, and there is no reason that
both cannot be supported. In fact, local, organic produce is ideally the best.”