EDINA, Minn. -- Fifty to 60 different types of organic produce were on special at all Byerly's locations during a two-week Organic Tasting Fair, according to Brian Johnson, produce manager.
The discounts offered ranged "anywhere from 10 cents off to half the price, depending on the support we got from the vendors," Johnson said.
The promotion, which wrapped up in early October, was the third annual Tasting Fair Byerly's has held to promote organic foods not just in produce, but throughout the store.
The event overlapped with Minnesota's Organic Week as declared by the state's governor, and featured roughly the same number of organic items -- about 50 -- that Byerly's carries year-round, according to Johnson.
To highlight the promotion, "We used different colors and sign cards. Organics are highlighted with yellow sign cards," explained Johnson. And "we put up a large sign about it."
About one-third of the total organic produce items were on special during the fair. Many of them, such as apples and pears, were demonstrated eight times over the weekends, according to Mike Carlson, assistant produce manager.
'Five to 10 items were demoed in a two-week period," said Johnson, who added that additional information was also provided by the demonstrators and through brochures.
Not much of the featured produce was local, according to Carlson. "There's not a whole lot from Minnesota -- 5% maybe at this time of year. There's not much in terms of [local] vegetables."
During last year's promotion, Byerly's saw a 10% to 15% increase in sales, according to Carlson. But "afterwards, it went back to normal. There wasn't a whole lot [of residual sales increase], maybe 5%," he noted. During this year's promotion Johnson reported almost no change in sales of organics.
"They didn't really increase at all," Johnson concluded. Nor had there been any noticeable increase since the promotion ended, he said.
But despite static sales figures for organics during this year's event, Johnson said there were a variety of other reasons why Byerly's was interested in promoting organic produce. Such promotions may not create instant results but may well work to increase sales of organics in the years to come. "What you hope to do is provide people with more information for the future," he said.
Johnson added Byerly's tried to "provide as much organic product as possible to heighten the awareness that [organics] are there for them if they choose to buy them."
He said, "generally the amount of organic produce sales is increasing. Items just need to be comparatively priced."
On the whole, Johnson estimated sales of organics were growing by a few percentage points a year, and wagered they would "be up 10% to 15% in a couple of years."
Carlson estimated 10% to 15% of Byerly's produce is organic year-round, although it only accounts for about 2% of total sales.
Johnson said that through the addition of a few more organic items, "it would be nice to get up to a 15% to 20% increase [in organic sales]."
He thought Byerly's would do more in-store demonstrations of organics, noting, "I'm sure we'll do another promotion."