Organic Optimism

To get a sense of the current status of the Florida organic market and where it is headed, it makes sense to talk to somebody who works in the market every day. Luis Hansen, a technical sales representative with BioSafe, is just one of those people. Despite economic uncertainties, he remains confident about organics in Florida.

He says the state has kept pace with the rest of the country with about 20% growth, and believes the demographics of the state lend to continued growth.

“Florida has a very diverse population and large agricultural output,” says Hansen. “In recent years, people’s concern with fitness and health, as well as responsible consumerism in the form of organic or chemical-free foods and ‘local eating,’ has provided a very big market for these types of foods. Just walk into any supermarket in Florida and you’ll see an organic section, and farmers markets are becoming very popular because they offer a great outlet for organic produce. There has also been an impact for farmers, as they realize that they can dedicate some of their land to organic farming to fill this growing niche.”

Shaky Economy

With companies failing and jobs being lost, one wonders if the 20% annual growth in the organic market can sustain itself. Hansen believes that loyal organic consumers will not cut organic food items out of their budgets first. 

“At this point in the current economic crisis, it is difficult to say whether lower incomes or concerns with saving will have a large impact on organic purchases,” he says. “Those who purchase organic foods are aware that they pay a premium for the food they consume. They usually select organic foods because they believe that in the long term they will save more by staying healthier than those who don’t consume organic foods. My guess is that most people will continue to buy organic and cut down on other purchases or luxuries rather than give up their nutrition habits.”

Organic Ready

Luis Hansen has grown well acquainted with Florida’s organic market because several of the products BioSafe offers are registered for organic production. Two of the most widely used products in conventional farming are OxiDate and StorOx. Both OxiDate and StorOx are listed with the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) for organic production.

OxiDate is engineered for foliar applications to control a wide range of plant pathogens and diseases, giving a contact kill of microorganisms in 30 seconds or less, and leaving no residuals. Some of its benefits are zero-hour REI, zero-days to harvest, and no mutational resistance. StorOx is engineered for postharvest application on the packing line to control bacteria and fungi that cause premature decay. Both products are exempt of pesticide residue by EPA. For irrigation or processing water treatment, there is SaniDate 12.0 MicroBiocide, another OMRI-listed product that kills bacteria, fungi, and algae to provide clean water. BioSafe Systems’ newest addition is SaniDate 5.0 which is a sanitizer/disinfectant labeled for human health pathogen control and is NOP (National Organic Program) compliant.

If transportation costs continue to rise, buying local shows promise as well, becoming more competitive.  

“In terms of ‘local eating,’ Florida still imports more organic foods than it produces, meaning that as prices rise (whether it be fuel, transportation costs, or a higher demand in local markets outside of Florida) consumers will turn to foods produced locally because they will be more readily available and probably equal in price,” he says. 

“As supermarkets and town stores began to add organic sections, it became clear that Florida was importing certain organic crops that were traditionally grown in the area. This prompted Florida farmers to start dedicating some of their land to organic production. As the market for these foods has grown, I’ve seen an increase in organically grown tomatoes, strawberries, yellow squash, lettuce, citrus, and herbs (such as rosemary and basil), just to name a few. In fact, production of these crops has become so successful that Florida is now exporting these to other states.”

Going Organic

For growers considering making the transition to organics, Hansen suggests they get educated first.

“Growing crops in Florida has great advantages due to its warm climate and sandy soils, but there is also high disease pressure due to the high humidity levels, which make crops more susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases,” he says. “My advice to growers considering organic production is it boils down to education. They should research crops and pick what they are going to grow carefully, take advantage of IFAS workshops, and contact the Florida Organic Farms organization for guidance at www.foginfo.org. Additionally, growers should decide which marketing channel they will focus on, as different types of markets have varied demands. Owning a ‘you-pick’ operation versus selling to a large supermarket chain will determine which crops the growers should target.”  

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

IrrigationWet December Predicted For Parched California
November 25, 2014
National Weather Service says above-normal precipitation expected; it may continue through the winter in central and southern parts of the Golden State. Read More
Apples & PearsEPA Approves Three New Moth Mating Disruption Products
November 25, 2014
Codling moth and oriental fruit moth are targeted by apple and pear growers. Read More
VegetablesSakata Hosts Annual Fall Field Trials
November 25, 2014
Growers and dealer partners gather to see new varieties at the company's South Florida field station. Read More
VegetablesStokes Seeds Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 25, 2014
For more information, contact: Stokes Seeds P.O. Box 548 Buffalo, NY 14240-0548 800-263-7233; fax: 800-272-5560 stokesseeds.com Read More
VegetablesAbbott & Cobb Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 25, 2014
For more information, contact: Abbott & Cobb P.O. Box 307 Feasterville, PA 19053 800-245-SEED; fax:215-245-9043 abbotcobb.com Read More
VegetablesVariety Trials 2014: Rupp Seeds
November 25, 2014
Check out new pumpkins weighing between 18 and 20 pounds as well as new powdery-mildew tolerant butternut squash hybrids. Read More
Food SafetyMultistate Salmonella Outbreak Linked To Bean Sprouts
November 25, 2014
FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with state and local officials continue to investigate the food-borne illness outbreak. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateCitrus Survey: New Management Techniques Trending
November 25, 2014
Growers widen their tactical approach to survive HLB. Read More
FruitsFruitGrowerConnect Brings Buyers And Sellers Together [Slideshow]
November 25, 2014
Suppliers and growers got down to business in San Diego discussing current needs, solutions, and ways to increase efficiencies on the farm. Read More
Vegetables13 Must Have Carrot Varieties [Slideshow]
November 24, 2014
Browse the slideshow for information on 13 carrot varieties to add to your collection. Read More

The Latest

IrrigationWet December Predicted For Parched California
November 25, 2014
National Weather Service says above-normal precipitation expected; it may continue through the winter in central and southern parts of the Golden State. Read More
Apples & PearsEPA Approves Three New Moth Mating Disruption Products
November 25, 2014
Codling moth and oriental fruit moth are targeted by apple and pear growers. Read More
VegetablesSakata Hosts Annual Fall Field Trials
November 25, 2014
Growers and dealer partners gather to see new varieties at the company's South Florida field station. Read More
VegetablesStokes Seeds Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 25, 2014
For more information, contact: Stokes Seeds P.O. Box 548 Buffalo, NY 14240-0548 800-263-7233; fax: 800-272-5560 stokesseeds.com Read More
VegetablesAbbott & Cobb Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varie…
November 25, 2014
For more information, contact: Abbott & Cobb P.O. Box 307 Feasterville, PA 19053 800-245-SEED; fax:215-245-9043 abbotcobb.com Read More
VegetablesVariety Trials 2014: Rupp Seeds
November 25, 2014
Check out new pumpkins weighing between 18 and 20 pounds as well as new powdery-mildew tolerant butternut squash hybrids. Read More
Food SafetyMultistate Salmonella Outbreak Linked To Bean Sprouts
November 25, 2014
FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with state and local officials continue to investigate the food-borne illness outbreak. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateCitrus Survey: New Management Techniques Trending
November 25, 2014
Growers widen their tactical approach to survive HLB. Read More
FruitsFruitGrowerConnect Brings Buyers And Sellers Together […
November 25, 2014
Suppliers and growers got down to business in San Diego discussing current needs, solutions, and ways to increase efficiencies on the farm. Read More
Vegetables13 Must Have Carrot Varieties [Slideshow]
November 24, 2014
Browse the slideshow for information on 13 carrot varieties to add to your collection. Read More
CitrusReasons Aplenty Florida Growers Should Feel Good Going …
November 24, 2014
Thanks to recent industry achievements, the next 12-month period is shaping up to be a year to remember --- fondly. Read More
BerriesSuspected Borer Could Be Big Bother To Florida Blueberr…
November 24, 2014
Producers warned to be on the lookout as scientists probe samples. Read More
NutsWatch Your Almonds’ Salt Intake
November 24, 2014
Because of the current California drought, almond growers must pay extra attention to soil salinity. Read More
Varieties & RootstocksHelp On The Way Citrus Growers Can Truly Tap Into
November 24, 2014
Demand for inventory to rise as USDA’s Tree Assistance Program pushes new plantings. Read More
FruitsRegistration Opens Dec. 1 For NAFDMA 30th Annual Conven…
November 24, 2014
The five-day event includes bus tours, educational sessions, workshops, and a business exchange in Tennessee in February. Read More
CitrusIndustry Organizations Sound Off On President’s Immig…
November 21, 2014
Agriculture is not given the attention it so sorely deserves when it comes to the immigration debate. Read More
Insect ControlDon’t Turn Your Back On Striped Blister Beetles
November 21, 2014
Learn how to ID, the survival and spread, as well as management methods of this vegetable pest. Read More
CitrusRamped-Up Predatory Mite Production To Benefit Growers
November 21, 2014
Biologics company Beneficial Insectary now rearing two species in its California facility. Read More