Organic Food Stores
Compared to their organic counterparts, the prices for conventional food have been and continue to be lower. The main reason for this is because to have their products certified organic, farmers who grow organic food have to meet stricter quality standards, which raises the cost since more labor is required to achieve these standards. Furthermore, a considerable amount of organic food is sold through Organic Food Stores which are generally smaller and require higher markups to stay in business.
It is also important to note that in many cases organic food is subject to a greater level of waste at the agricultural end. Although there are many ways that organic farmers can defend against diseases and pests, these are generally not as effective as modern herbicides and pesticides in preventing damage to the crops. Fortunately many consumers are demanding that their produce be organic and free from chemicals… and willing to pay the price.
There has been a growth trend in supermarkets, including Whole Foods Market in the USA and Waitrose in the UK, that carry large volumes of organic food since the 1980's. Thanks to these large chains' abilities to achieve large volume sales, the price of organic food have been brought down by these Organic Food Stores.
In 2006, Wal-Mart, the largest grocery retailer in the country, announced plans to increase the amount of organic food available in its stores, so the pressure to bring the cost down has vastly increase in the United States in the last little while. Wal-Mart intends to keep the price of the organic versions to at most 10% over the price of the conventionally grown counterparts, but both conventionally grown and organic versions of certain products will still be available. This is not to indicate that Wal-Mart is now an Organic Food Store, but it is important to understand that a huge marketer like Wal-Mart is interested in making marketing inroads into the conventional and smaller Organic Food Stores.
Wal-Mart's advance into selling organic food has some people worried because of their acknowledged business practices and overall size of their operation. These critics are concerned that more organic produce will have to be imported from outside the country because of the increase in demand. Organic Food Stores might have to pay higher prices for the organic food they purchase since there might be very little left after Wal-Mart has taken its share.
In general, seasonal food that is locally-grown can be brought more quickly to market, which can make the food better tasting and to some degree more nutritious by virtue of its freshness, than food that is required to be transported long distances. The sourcing of Wal-Mart in its new disguise as an Organic Food Store has to be investigated.
Based on the principle that social and environmental sustainability are inextricably interdependent, organic food and the fair trade movement are also often linked which presents another problem for the Wal-Mart critics who have adopted the attitude that the preferable retail channel to buy organic food is the Organic Food Store.