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Organic Food Trend Finds Niche in Snack Food Section

NEW YORK -- Sales of organic snacks are on fire, as organic chips, nuts, nutrition bars and candy jumped 29.6 percent last year, reported the USA Today. That was outpaced only by organic meats (including poultry and fish), according to the Organic Trade Association.

All of the good things about the $23 billion organic food industry are being processed by foodmakers at a near-frenetic pace into convenient snack foods.

Organics are Frito-Lay's fastest-growing line. In a year, Frito-Lay has emerged as the No. 1 seller of organic snacks. It recently introduced organic Tostitos chips, and is now working on an organic Doritos line.

"There's a perception that the organic consumer is living in a commune somewhere," said Stephen Quinn, marketing chief at Frito-Lay. "She's not. She's my wife."

Adding to the trend: more snacking of all kinds. For many time-pressed, two-worker families, a stream of snacks has replaced family mealtimes. That's one reason a record 120 organic snacks are scheduled to be introduced this year, up 40 percent from last year, estimates Lynn Dornblaser, director of consulting services at Mintel, a research firm.

Garden of Eden's organic tortilla chips grew 41 percent in the past year. The company's organic snack business has grown more than 20 percent in the past year, said Ellen Deutsch, chief growth officer at parent company Hain Celestial Group.

Such numbers have even some organic specialty companies that don't make processed snacks trying to squeeze into the snacking arena.

Take Earthbound Farm, the biggest producer of organic produce, including those familiar bags of baby carrots. "My snack as a kid was a Twinkie," says Larry Hamwey, head of marketing. "But my three kids all know they have to have healthy snacks."
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