Shares of Sprouts Farmers Market Inc (Nasdaq:SFM) more than doubled from an offering price of $18 apiece, on its market debut on the Nasdaq stock exchange on Thursday, due to rising demand from investors for a stake in the Phoenix-based organic grocer.

Sprouts, backed by Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE:APO), a company dealing in private equity management, climbed more than 111 percent to close at $38.05 on Thursday, after opening around mid-day at $35 and quickly climbing to a session high of $40.1 before easing off those levels, an MT Newswires release said.

The supermarket chain offered 18.5 million shares to the public at $3 above the expected range of $14 to $15 a share, and it was worth about $5.6 billion at the session high. The surge in Sprouts’ shares represents the best post-IPO performance since LinkedIn’s public offering in May 2011, when the social networking company’s shares advanced 109.4 percent in their first day of trading.

“I don't see interest in healthy and natural living diminishing,” Tim Kelleher, managing partner at Silver Canyon Group LLC, which has a 6.2 percent stake in Sprouts, told the Wall Street Journal. “It's really a combination of the healthy living theme, the experienced management team and the differentiation.”

Meanwhile, shares of rival, Whole Foods Market, Inc. (Nasdaq:WFM), were down about 1 percent on Thursday at $55.03 apiece.

Apollo, based in New York City, acquired a majority stake in Sprouts, in Feb. 2011, and merged it with Henry's Farmers Market and Sunflower Farmers Market. Apollo’s stake in Sprouts has been lowered to 45.4 percent from 51.8 percent after the initial public offering, Reuters reported.

Organic food sales in the U.S. were worth $27 billion in 2012, up from $11 billion in 2004, accounting for more than 3.5 percent of total U.S. food sales in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And, sales of organic food registered a growth rate of 7.4 percent in 2012, which was more than double the annual growth rate forecast for all food sales in 2012, despite suffering a fall in 2008 due to the economic slowdown.