Sept 17 (Reuters) - With continued growth in demand fororganic food, big companies vie to increase investment in theonce-niche sector.

Following are some recent developments in the globalorganic/natural foods sector:

Sept 1 - Canada's SunOpta Inc sold its loss-makingcellulosic ethanol unit to U.S. biofuels company Mascoma Corpfor $51 million to focus on its core natural and organic foodsbusiness.

Aug 16 - Whole Foods Market says organic foods nowrepresent larger part of total food purchase, according to asurvey. While about three out of four adults continue to buynatural/organic foods, the number of organic products in theirgrocery baskets has increased, the company said.

July 29 - United Natural Foods Inc and Whole Foods Marketsigned a deal that will make United Natural the primarynonperishable distributor for the upscale natural/organic foodsgrocer's Rocky Mountain Region.

July 16 - Imports of organic food products into theEuropean Union are likely to increase sharply as demandoutstrips domestic supply. Rising demand for organic produce inmore affluent western EU states could also push up intra-EUtrade, as organic production has grown much faster than demandin central and eastern Europe, a report said.

June 24 - Upmarket UK grocer Waitrose said it will relauncha premium, organic food range founded by Prince Charles, heirto the throne, to differentiate itself from rivals and drivegrowth overseas.

May 11 - SunOpta agreed to sell its Canadian fooddistribution assets to United Natural Foods for C$68 million tofocus on its core food manufacturing business.

Feb 25 - Dutch food group Wessanen said it expects to sellits U.S. drinks company ABC in 2011 to focus on the Europeanorganic food market.

Dec 23, 2009 - Kehe Food Distributors buys Wessanen's TreeOf Life North America unit for $190 million.

Nov 19, 2009 - Whole Foods Market said it will sell Cascal,a natural soda designed in France, in its U.S. stores by theyear-end. (Reporting by Arnika Thakur and Gowri Jayakumar in Bangalore,Editing by Ian Geoghegan)