More Options for Organic Shopping

Competition brings lower prices

Alicia Sacks walks through the natural and organic section at the Grocery Outlet store in downtown San Diego. She has been watching what she eats for more than 40 years, and the 69-year-old can't believe how many more options there are today for organic foods.

"This is a dream that didn't think would happen in my lifetime," said Sacks.  

Sacks remembers working at a small natural foods store in Hillcrest. In that day, you were limited on where you could shop. But today traditional grocery stores like Vons and Ralphs, big box stores like Wal-Mart and Costco and even discount stores like 99¢ Only Store and Grocery Outlet are selling organic products.

"I think it is fantastic," said Sacks.

The competition is also leading to lower prices. In fact traditional health food market Whole Foods took a tumble in the stock market recently. One reason given for the disappointing results was the wide range of organic and natural goods sold at competing grocery stores.

"It is so much better in the stores," said shopper Lynne Rine. "I don't have to go to a specialty store like Whole Foods. I can go to a regular store and go organic."

Kim Smith and her husband run the Grocery Outlet on Market Street. Two months ago they expanded their natural and organic food section from a corner of the store to an entire aisle. Smith said since then, their sales have risen 40 percent on natural and healthy food products.

"It is becoming such a big thing right now," said Smith. "Everyone wants organic products."  

Dawn Capitan works in the produce department and said they sell organic avocados, broccoli, cauliflower and bananas along with lettuce and mixed salad. She said it's hard to characterize organic shoppers. They are all ages, shapes and sizes.

"Because everybody is so much into being healthy," said Capitan.

As more stores open up their organic sections, many feel it will continue to bring down prices and increase variety.

Whole Foods is said to be countering their current slide by expanding into smaller stores, similar perhaps to a Trader Joe's. That is expected to start some time next year.

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