Organic Retailers in North America

<img class=”alignleft size-full wp-image-1179″ src=”” alt=”walmartorganic” width=”280″ height=”221″ />There’s very little research regarding organic sales at mainstream grocery stores. Past research does show that organic food is the largest selling sector of the industry, and that most organic food is sold at mainstream grocers. Based on this research, I’ve gathered grocers who sell a fair to large amount of organics and who are also experiencing decent profits and growth for their size. However, without more research, there are no absolute certainties about who the largest organic retailers are.

1. Walmart

Retail Units: More than 9759 retail units under 60 different banners in 28 countries.

2011 Sales: Walmart had revenues for the full year 2011 of $419.0 billion.

Amount of Organic Products: In 2006, some Walmart store offered as many as 400 organic products. As the years have gone by, Walmart has increased those offerings. Currently, organic food, clothing and other organic products are available at Walmart.

The bad:

In 2011, as always, people are fussing and fighting over Walmart organics. Some feel that Walmart’s ability to sell organics for less undercuts local grocers and other natural food grocers. They’ve been accused of mislabeling conventional food products as organic and accused of sourcing low-integrity organics from factory farms, as have others on this list – Kroger, Target, Safeway and Costco.

The good:

Walmart has many sustainable practices in place, which of course doesn’t mean they carry the best organics, but it is a perk, especially since consumers want organics and green practices. Walmart has also developed partnerships with many local organic farmers, and in fact have set goals to double the sale of locally sourced produce by 2015.

Walmart is also the largest grower of organic cotton in the world, although debates abound regarding just how sustainable their organic cotton is.

Obviously one of the biggest perks of Walmart organics is their ability to bring organics to more people in more places. With a Walmart on every corner, it’s easy for consumers to find the organics they want and at lower prices. Having organics at Walmart does help increase consumer knowledge about organics and supports the organic industry in general.

2. Costco

Retail Units: 592 locations in the U.S and other countries.

2011 Sales: Costco Wholesale Corporation had revenues for the full year 2011 of $88.9 billion.

Amount of Organic Products: Organic food offerings at Costco have grown in recent years, but like other mainstream grocers, it’s hard at times for Costco to meet organic demand.

The bad:

Like other mainstream grocers, Costco has faced major heat for selling factory farmed organics. Also, organic selections at Costco can be hit or miss, especially where fresh organic produce is concerned.
The good:

Costco has an excellent sales record and a huge consumer base. Many Americans love club-style stores, so the fact that Costco carries organics opens up the organic industry to lots of new consumers.

3. Kroger

Retail Units: Kroger operates nearly 2,500 stores in 31 states under two dozen banners.

2011 Sales:The Kroger Co. had revenues for the full year 2011 of $82.2 billion.

Amount of Organic Products: Kroger offers two in-house organic brands; Kroger’s Naturally Preferred and Private Selection Organic. Plus Kroger carries mainstream organics as well, such as Organic Valley and local organics are available depending on location.

The bad:
Kroger’s organic selections at many of their stores is sketchy at best. While they do carry a decent amount of organics, they don’t carry typical organics at all times. Such as, you may or may not find organic bread or yogurt in stock. Also their organics tend to be strung out all over the store, vs. gathered together in their “Nature’s Market” departments, making it hard for consumers to find what they need.

Beyond a few bars of soap, I’ve personally never seen any actual certified organic body care items sold at any Kroger store I’ve been to, which yes, is very annoying. Additionally, Kroger has been accused of carrying factory farmed milk.

The good:

Although, as stated above, they’re hard to locate, Kroger does offer a wide selection of organic products, including fairly decent produce selections (depending on the store). They also only sell rBST-free milk. Plus, Kroger Manufacturing operates a variety of certified organic processing facilities, which further helps support the organic industry.

4. SuperTarget

Retail Units: Today, Target operates nearly 1,750 stores in 49 states, including more than 240 SuperTarget stores

2011 Sales: Target Corp. had revenues for the full year 2011 of $67.4 billion.

Amount of Organic Products:

SuperTarget offers approximately 700 organic products from several brands.
The bad:

Target, like many others on this list, have been accused of selling factory farmed, low-integrity organics.

The good:

SuperTarget stores have seriously increased their organic offerings over the last year, and even carry a few organic body care and organic baby products. Their organic prices are reasonable and the fact that they offer organics makes organics more visible to consumers in general.

5. Safeway

Retail Units: There are currently 1,702 Safeway stores across the US and Canada.

2011 Sales: Safeway Inc. had revenues for the full year 2010 of $41.1 billion.

Amount of Organic Products: Safeway’s O Organics includes over 300 certified organic products available in almost every aisle of their grocery store, and they sell other brands of organics as well.

The bad:

Safeway is likely the quietest grocer on this list. They’re not very controversial or all that wonderful when it comes to organics. Safeway’s organic produce selection leaves much to be desired and this retailer is accused of carrying factory farmed organic dairy products.

Also, some think that Safeway is pushing out the competition by getting rid of smaller organic brands in order to sell more of their own O Organics brand. Lastly, Safeway has introduced some questionable, “Natural” offerings that may confuse consumers into buying these natural products over organics.

The good:

Safeway’s growth in organics is growing and O Organics is considered a cost-effective alternative to other organic brands



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