As a wholesaler, retailer and foodservice provider, Brighton-based Infinity Foods has its fingers in several pies.

The worker-owned co-operative runs a health food store and café in the city. But it's the impressive wholesale site two miles along the Sussex coast in Portslade that generates most of its £13.5m- turnover business.

Infinity began as a festival catering enterprise, founded in 1970, then moved into retail in 1971 and wholesale in 1984. "The wholesale business grew organically out of the back of the shop," explains company secretary Charlie Booth, who has been with Infinity for 19 years. "Customers wanted grains, beans, lentils and the like in larger quantities, so we set up the wholesale operation to deal with that."

Eighty per cent of what the company sells is organic and nearly a sixth is Fairtrade. Staple foods such as lentils, nuts and seeds are the core part of the business proposition, with organic oats the top seller.

Today's wholesale operation in Portslade is a three-warehouse site supplying 2,000 independent health food shops, cafés and restaurants mainly in the south east. Though the wholesale arm remains the core element of the business, the company has high hopes for its own-label organic range, sold in the Brighton shop, despite the looming recession.

"I'm sceptical about the rumoured 'organic downturn'," says Booth. "People buy organic for a good reason and customers who shop at specialist organic retailers are hardcore. Supermarkets may see people trade down, but I think our customers are a bit sheltered ."

That doesn't mean Infinity is resting on its laurels. Plans are afoot to prop up its UK business by capitalising on the boom in British exports. The company now has regular orders going to Holland, Spain, Lithuania, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Ireland and it is looking at the possibility of moving its wholesale division to a new site to allow further overseas expansion.

Booth also acknowledges the challenges facing the business. The first indication of trouble came last Christmas when sales were flatter than usual.

"There was no take-off of luxury and high-end products," he recalls. "Over the year we've had growth and maintained our margins, but it's been a tense time. The price of sesame seeds - a big line for us - trebled, but you couldn't buy them anywhere. Thankfully on a lot of commodities we had the foresight to forward buy, but even that can only last for so long."

With its customers in the same boat, Infinity is bracing itself for choppy waters. "We have lost some good customers and could lose more over the next six months," he says. "We're supporting our retailers by holding prices as low as possible."

In the long term, however, Booth is confident Infinity's diversification strategy will see it through. And, as he points out, organic consumers are hardcore - they're not the type to let a little thing like a recession cramp their style.