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Melissa’s believes category will grow tremendously in future

Melissa’s World Variety Produce in Los Angeles is feeling a definite increase in organic sales as the economy takes its slow turn upward, Robert Schueller, director of public relations for the company, said.

“We have had considerable sales growth from the previous year, and we see a bright future in the year to come,” he said.

“‘Buy organics’ is a lifestyle change that many Americans have organicVeg3A bountiful display of organic produce items from Melissa’s World Variety Produce. The company is seeing a boost in organic sales as the economy improves. already embraced, and that many more are in the process of embracing.”

Melissa’s, a major distributor of specialty and organic products, has been shipping organics for 14 years.

“The majority of our organic produce items are produced domestically, and primarily in California,” said Mr. Schueller. “The percentages change with the weather conditions, but as of this year we are 70 percent U.S., 20 percent Mexico and 10 percent from other countries. In the summer the ratio switches to about 85 percent U.S., 10 percent Mexico and five percent imports.

“We ship across the nation — all 50 states, primarily to large retail chains,” he added.

He said that Melissa’s offers approximately 200 organic produce items, and over 500 different packaging options. The strongest selling items year round are oranges, especially Valencia and Navels; lemons; bell peppers; cucumbers; zucchini; edamame; kiwi; and yellow onions.

“The current cold weather has a strong influence on cooking patterns, and so we promote organic products that complement soups and stews at this time of year,” said Mr. Schueller.

“Popular winter organic produce includes celery, broccoli, potatoes, chard, onions, leeks — the list goes on. In addition, we are doing very well with a seasonal organic citrus program this year that consists of oranges, grapefruit, lemons, lines and tangerines,” he went on to say.

In terms of new organic product in the past year, Melissa’s has introduced organic farro, organic red quinoa and, most recently, organic coco nibs, which are geared as a specialty item for produce departments.

Mr. Schueller noted that the locally grown trend is having a positive impact on the demand for organics. As increasingly more consumers become health-conscious and seek locally grown produce, they are naturally looking for local organic foods.

“This, in turn, creates a better demand for our organic items that are produced locally,” he said. “Also due to the growth and demand of organics, many conventional growers are changing their practices and allocating more production to certified-organic growing.”

He added that by utilizing more point-of-purchase materials that promote locally grown items, and signage that depicts farmers who share their farming history, family and traditions, retailers are able to benefit from an increased interest from consumers about who is producing their food and how.

“I truly believe that organic products will become more of a staple in consumers’ buying habits in the future,” said Mr. Schueller.

“There are many reasons people buy organic products. Some feel it’s the most healthy choice, others say that sustainable growing practices help to protect the environment,” he said. “This type of thinking combined with all the information available today helps people to make more conscious decisions about the products they buy.

“Organics will continue to grow and prosper,” Mr. Schueller continued. “And Melissa’s is here to feed a hungry America.”