Thursday, April 10, 2008

What's new and organic on your store shelves?

Shopper's Drug Mart in Canada recently unrolled its own new line of organic products, planning to offer up to 170 new products, including coffee, tea, juice, salad dressing, pasta and pasta sauces, cereals and more. I've only seen a handful of items in my local Shopper's -- mostly snack foods like nuts, seeds, rice cakes and an assortment of cookies and crackers.

Shop n' Save's parent company grocery giant Supervalu Inc. just announced that it's going to be launching its own line of of up to 300 new organic products -- Wild Harvest -- in the US
. They intend to sell organic dairy and eggs, cereals, pasta and produce. They also plan to offer it at an average 15% less in price than most brand name organic products currently on the market. A recent Wall Street Journal article mentions that Supervalu's goal is to keep consumers in their stores, rather than buying their ''regular'' groceries at a Shop n' Save and then going to places like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's for their organic foods.

I'm glad to see organic foods becoming more readily available on the market and to see them becoming more affordable. It concerns me, however, that a lot of smaller health food stores -- like the two independently owned ones in my small city -- are now facing increasingly fierce competition from larger chains that can afford to undercut them. I also wonder what the impact will have upon organic farmers
, who generally operate smaller, more intensive operations completely unlike a lot of the large-scale factory farm type set-ups that provide cheap food for the general North American market. If the supermarkets don't want to cover the extra cost of the more labour-intensive and costly organically farmed goods and don't want to pass on additional costs to their customers, that leaves the organic farmers to carry the load.

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