Organic NM co-op slammed for 'regular' produce

Dive Brief:

  • La Montanita Co-op will no longer carry nonorganic produce in its stores this year, according to The Albuquerque Journal
  • This move reverses its 2016 decision to include "conventional" versions of eggplant, avocados and other fruit and vegetables the Environmental Working Group lists on the "Clean 15" list of produce with the lowest pesticide levels. 
  • ​While some consumers appreciated the lower price of the "Clean 15" produce items, La Montanita marketing manager Lea Mae Quale said. "The voices of the community, team members and customers made it clear that stocking those items were not a viable option for La Montañita, at this time,” according to The Albuquerque Journal.

Dive Insight:

While La Montanita has always offered some non-organic products – sourced locally from growers not certified as organic – all of its non-local produce are certified organic once again. 

Customer response to this New Mexico grocery store is interesting. On the one hand, consumer health trends clearly indicate desire for all-natural, organic produce. But this level of quality often alienates lower-income shoppers who can't afford the cost that comes with certified organic produce. If anything, this predicament points to the power of "organic" foods as a concept. Including "regular" produce did not cause problems for shoppers looking for all-natural products, but they were unhappy nonetheless. 

This highlights the challenges retailers face when trying to meet demand for organic fruits and vegetables without alienating a segment of the consumer population.

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Filed Under: Grocery
Top image credit: Peyri Herrera