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Planet Organic sales up in down market

Edmonton-based “natural” food retailer Planet Organic Health Corp. is reporting higher sales in its second quarter despite fears of an economic downturn eating into high-end organic sales.

The company, which owns the Planet Organic Market chain in Canada and the Mrs. Green’s Natural Market chain in the U.S. and bills itself as the biggest natural products retailer in Canada, will report its full Q2 results March 2.

But Planet Organic on Wednesday reported consolidated sales of $32.1 million for its Q2 ending Dec. 31, 2008, up 16.8 per cent from $27.5 million in the year-earlier period.

The Planet Organic Market wing showed revenues of $15.4 million for the quarter, up 16.6 per cent. Mrs. Green’s sales were up 25 per cent over the year-earlier period when measured in Canadian dollars, but its revenues rose only about US$100,000 for the quarter, to US$11 million.

The two divisions combined account for nearly 90 per cent of Planet Organic Health’s total revenue, the company said. Results from its other divisions, such as supplement maker Trophic and “natural health” stores Sangster’s and Healthy’s (Planet Organic Living), will be released in the full Q2 report next month.

“We are extremely happy about our Q2 sales results given the current
economic environment in both Canada and the U.S.,” chief financial officer Darren Krissie said in the company’s release Wednesday. “We continue to focus on serving our customers and increasing our efficiencies as best we can.”

The report comes at a time when food market observers point to slower growth rates or declines in sales of higher-priced organic fare, due to the current economic slowdown.

For example, according to the British farm paper Farmers Weekly, market research firm IGD last week reported the percentage of U.K. grocery shoppers buying organic food dropping from near 25 per cent down to 19 per cent in 2008.

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