ORGANIC CODFISH CATCHES INTEREST

PARSIPPANY, N.J. - Kings Super Markets here is reeling in strong sales of fresh organic codfish, a new offering in the seafood departments at the company's 27 stores."The initial response has been good," said Cheryl Good, spokeswoman for Kings, a division of Marks and Spencer. "We are hearing some very positive feedback from our customers. Organic cod, along with other organics, is a part of the future

PARSIPPANY, N.J. - Kings Super Markets here is reeling in strong sales of fresh organic codfish, a new offering in the seafood departments at the company's 27 stores.

"The initial response has been good," said Cheryl Good, spokeswoman for Kings, a division of Marks and Spencer. "We are hearing some very positive feedback from our customers. Organic cod, along with other organics, is a part of the future of our business."

One of the first American retailers to offer the fish, Kings rolled it out in November. Though the price fluctuates somewhat, at $14.99 per pound, the cod - harvested by Johnson Seafarms, Shetland Islands, Scotland - is Kings' priciest organic fish option. The retailer also merchandises Black Pearl Shetland Farm organic salmon fillet, a farm-raised product, and organic shrimp and tilapia from Clewiston, Fla.-based Ocean Boy.

Kings is promoting the ecologically friendly cod in circulars and advertisements as well as in stores with signs and brochures. In-store demonstrations and sampling events focusing on the product have garnered a "very positive" response" so far, according to Good, who added it's too soon to tell how sales of organic cod compare to conventional, non-organic cod, which retails for $11.99 per pound, according to a store associate.

The organic cod's steep price may be linked to limited availability. In October the world's first commercial batch of organically farmed cod was harvested by Johnson Seafarms off the northern tip of Scotland, according to the vendor.

Johnson Seafarms' organic cod offering achieved the Organic Food Federation Cod Standard, which is recognized by the British Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for the production of organic cod. The standard prevents the use of any unnatural or synthetic component including antibiotics, herbicides, pesticides or hormones from hatchery to plate, according to Johnson Seafarms. To date, the United States National Organic Program, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has not established standards for organic seafood.

Kings has been promoting the other organic items in its seafood departments. Last week, organic salmon fillets were featured at $11.99 per pound for loyalty club members, and $13.99 per pound for non-members. The organic shrimp, which regularly retails for $9.99 per pound, was offered on sale for $6.99 per pound while organic tilapia retailed for $9.99 per pound.

Organic food in general is gaining widespread appeal. Sixty-five percent of Americans have tried organic foods and beverages, up from 54% in both 2003 and 2004, according to Whole Foods Market's 2005 Organic Trend Tracker, released in November.

Furthermore, 27% of respondents indicated that they consume more organic foods and beverages than they did one year ago. Though organic items are available in nearly every category of food sold in supermarkets, fresh fruits and vegetables remain the most frequently purchased organic food category, according to the Trend Tracker.