U.S. Organic Sales Break Through $50 Billion Mark in 2018
WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. organic market in 2018 broke through the $50 billion mark for the first time, with sales hitting a record $52.5 billion, up 6.3 percent from the previous year, as reported by the 2019 Organic Industry Survey released by the Organic Trade Association.
"Organic is now considered mainstream. But the attitudes surrounding organic are anything but the status quo," said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director. "In 2018, there was a notable shift in the mindset of those working in organic toward collaboration and activism to move the needle on the role organic can play in sustainability and tackling environmental initiatives."
According to a press release, the stalwart of the organic industry, sales of organic fruits and vegetables rose to $17.4 billion in 2018 for a 5.6 percent rate of growth, on par with the growth attained in 2017. By comparison, the overall fruits and vegetables category, including both organic and conventional products, grew by just 1.7 percent in 2018. Fruits and vegetables now account for 36.3 percent of all organic food sales. Organic fruits and vegetables make up close to 15 percent of all the produce sold in the U.S. and have nearly doubled their market share in the last 10 years.
Popular in the organic produce aisles are the classics, like carrots, greens, apples, bananas. Also hitting stride are organic berries, avocados, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and tropical fruits like mangos and papayas. And outside the fresh produce section, frozen, canned, and dried vegetable and fruit sections also made gains.
Produce is a gateway to organic for consumers, especially Millennials and those with young families. Industry experts note that the more people learn about health and wellness, the more people buy fresh produce.
"Organic is in a unique and tough environment. The government is slowing the advancement of the organic standard, but the positive news is that industry is finding ways to innovate and get closer to the consumer without walking away from the organic program—the sector is innovating yet requiring that federal organic be in place," said Batcha. "So, whether it's grass-fed, regenerative, or Global Organic Textile Standard certified, they all have to be organic. The industry is committed to standards and giving consumers what they want."
The association said millennials are pushing for transparency and integrity in the food supply chain, and they are savvy to misleading marketing. The USDA Organic seal is gaining new appeal as consumers realize that organic is a certification that is not only monitored and supported by official standards, but is the only seal that encompasses the spectrum of non-GMO, no toxic pesticides or chemicals, dyes, or preservatives.
"Activism is a natural reaction from an industry that is really close to the consumer,” said Batcha. “When we are in an environment where government is not moving fast enough, the industry is choosing to move to meet the consumer rather than get stalled."
Currently, almost 6 percent of the food sold in this country is organic. Today's consumers can find organic products—food and non-food items—in every aisle of their grocery stores. They can choose organic in their favorite big box store, their club warehouse store, even in their neighborhood convenience store, and increasingly on the internet. Organic is no longer a niche market.
Additionally, new records were set in both the organic food market and the organic non-food market. Organic food sales reached $47.9 billion, for an increase of 5.9 percent. Sales of organic non-food products jumped by 10.6 percent to $4.6 billion. The growth rate for organic continued to easily outpace the general market: in 2018, total food sales in the U.S. edged up just 2.3 percent while total non-food sales rose 3.7 percent.
To learn more about the Organic Trade Association's 2019 Organic Industry Survey, read the association's press release in its entirety here.
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