Organic Market Surpasses $31 Billion

Driven by consumer choice, the U.S. organic industry grew by 9.5 percent overall in 2011 to reach $31.5 billion in sales. Of this, the organic food and beverage sector was valued at $29.22 billion, while the organic non-food sector reached $2.2 billion, according to findings from the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) 2012 Organic Industry Survey. These and other organic-related statistics (see the accompanying info-graphic) are being discussed this week in conjunction with the trade association’s 2012 Policy Conference and Hill Visit Days here in Washington.

“The U.S. organic sector continues to show steady and healthy growth, growing overall by 9.5 percent during 2011, and, for the first time, surpassing the $30 billion mark,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director and CEO.

She added, “Consumers are increasingly engaged and discerning when they shop, making decisions based on their values and awareness about health and environmental concerns. For them, it matters whether foods are genetically engineered, or produced using practices that are good for their families. Price is still an issue, but with the wide availability of private label products and many venues for organic products, they have many choices for where to shop and a variety of products from which to choose.”

Overall organic product sales growth of 9.5 percent continued to outpace total sales of comparable conventionally produced food and non-food items, which experienced 4.7 percent growth. The growth in organic sales is proof the consumer is willing to pay for value-added products.

Organic food sales experienced 9.4 percent growth in 2011. The easing of the recession, consumer price inflation due to input price increases, and consumers’ increasing desire for convenience products were all factors that elevated growth for the year. The organic food sector grew by $2.5 billion during 2011, with the fruit and vegetable category contributing close to 50 percent of those new dollars. The fastest-growing sector was the meat, fish & poultry category, posting 13 percent growth over 2010 sales, but still remaining the smallest of the eight organic food categories.

Organic food sales now represent 4.2 percent of all U.S. food sales, up from 4 percent in 2010.

Meanwhile, organic non-food sales, which reached $2.2 billion in 2011, experienced strong 11 percent growth, while total comparable non-organic items grew only 5 percent.

Prospects for 2012 and 2013, as indicated through the 2012 survey results, indicate that organic food and non-food sales will continue to sustain growth levels of nine percent or higher.

“With 94 percent of organic operations nationwide planning to maintain or increase employment in 2012, the organic sector will continue to fuel jobs, rural economies and consumer choice,” said Bushway.

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