DAMNING market-hygiene reports and cases of poisoning from pesticide-sprayed vegetables from China have increased consumer awareness of organic foodstuffs, but supplies are limited in Hongkong. Organic fruit and vegetables have a short shelf-life making it impractical for retailers to stock imports from overseas. One supplier, Produce Green Ltd - which established an organic farm near Fanling in 1989 - sells to branches of Park'N Shop, although the majority of its 20 vegetable varieties are only available direct from the farm. A spokesman for Dairy Green, which imports organic produce from Australia, said: ''Fresh organic food is in peak condition for a maximum of two weeks. Demand must be sufficient to ensure high turnover.'' But, one mainstream retailer feels the time may be right to import organic produce. To test the water, Seibu is staging a month-long organic food promotion in association with Dairy Green. The Seibu promotion, which runs until May 8, will not be a high-profile or large-scale event, but will give shoppers access to a range of high-quality organic fruit and vegetables. Ms Olivia Chu, of Seibu, explained the purpose of the promotion: ''Last year we introduced hydroponically-grown vegetables. They sold very well, so we felt the market potential for organic produce was good.'' All the produce, from broccoli to apples, bears official organic certification from Australia, there is also an educational video on organic farming and leaflets in Chinese and English. Organic food is normally expensive - production is more labour intensive than commercial farming and wastage is high - so during the promotion, Seibu is offering a 10-20 per cent discount on normal prices. Another major player moving into the organic market is wine importer Jardine Riche Monde. ''We have just placed an order for 30 cases of organically grown wines from Fetzer vineyards in California,'' marketing manager Mr Kinson Kung said. ''The trend is definitely towards things organic, but we will have to wait and see what happens. I'm looking forward to it as I haven't tasted organic wine.'' Fetzer began farming grapes organically 10 years ago. Its first organic wines - a red table wine and a chardonnay - were released in February. The total production was only 6,000 cases. ''As soon as we found out about it we put in an order,'' Mr Fung said. ''Despite the limited quantity, we expect prices to be reasonable. A bottle shouldn't cost more than $100.'' There are also a number of health shops in the territory that stock organic products, defined as those grown without chemical fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides. ''A lot of people come in and ask for it,'' said Ms Agnes Chan, of Eden's in Prince's Building. ''At the moment, around 20 per cent of our stock is organic, but we are planning to expand to meet demand.'' Eden's sells whole grains, dried fruit and nuts from Australia, and local fruit juice, soya-milk drinks and cooking oils. With outlets in Queensway Plaza and Causeway Bay Plaza, the Health Shoppe carries organic products ''wherever possible''. Its range includes vegetarian meals, soup mixes, breakfast cereals, pastas and spreads. At the moment only hotels and restaurants are able to order sufficient quantities of fresh produce to make importing from overseas worthwhile. ''I import organic Australian herbs for a number of hotels,'' said Mr Walter Kern, of Gastro Primo. ''I've been approached by a few local growers, but they can't promise consistent quality or supply. You can't do business on that basis.'' Ms Eileen Ogle, of Oliver's, agreed: ''We sell a variety of organic salad greens from New Zealand, but the only local produce is watercress. It's true there has been a marked interest in consumer interest, but first you must find a reliable supplier.'' The demand for organic food and wine - from consumers and retailers - seems to be there. Whether price, quality and regular supply will fulfil that demand remains to be seen.