Walmart expands into growing organic food market - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Walmart expands into growing organic food market

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Walmart is hoping to take a big bite out of the organic foods market.

It's teaming up with organic foods company "Wild Oats" to offer organic products on its shelves. The joint venture will start with 100 packaged goods.

Over the past two decades, the organic foods market has grown all over the U.S. as more people are concerned about how their food is grown.

"People are concerned about food transparency; they want to know how many chemicals are on my food, what am I putting in my child's mouth? It's not lost on them that there's all sorts of food poisonings and recalls, and so they're concerned about where it came from and who grew it," said Molly Langley, the general manager of Co-op Natural Foods in Sioux Falls.

The increased demand for organic food is putting pressure on more farmers to adhere to strict organic guidelines.

"They just can't flip and turn into an organic farmer over night. That soil has to have been pesticide free for up to five years, and those records are kept. That organic label means something and so they pay quite a bit of money to ensure that and they also pay to register that they're an organic farmer," said Langley.

Organic farmers also have to worry about neighboring farms affecting their crops.

"You can actually get drifts from his pesticide and herbicides, but herbicide drift is the big one. You can be trying to grow organic and even certified organic and if your neighbor's 24-D hits your crop, then you're no longer certified organic," said Mary Roduner, a Consumer Horticulture Field Specialist with the SDSU Extension Office.

The extra effort for farmers generally drives up the price of organic foods, but the nationwide growth in the industry shows it's a price many customers are willing to pay.

Walmart says their new line of organic products will be sold at the same price as non-organic brands, and 25 percent less than organic national brands currently sold at Walmart.

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