Are you one of the many American consumers who helped sales of organic products in the U.S. increase by 11.5% last year?
According to a recent survey conducted by the Organic Trade Association, organics leapt from $31.5 billion in 2012 to $35.1 billion in 2013, marking the sector’s fastest growth rate in 5 years. With no tapering in sight, the OTA predicts that comparable or even greater expansion will occur over the next 2 years.
“The U.S. organic market is experiencing strong expansion, with organic food and farming continuing to gain in popularity,” said Laura Batcha, executive director and CEO of OTA. “Consumers are making the correlation between what we eat and our health, and that knowledge is spurring heightened consumer interest in organic products.”
A telling figure for what was once a niche industry is the growth rate comparison for organic food sales (an average of almost 10% per year since 2010) to the annual growth of total food sales in the same time frame (just 3%). Organic fruits and vegetables continue to lead the overall growth with $11.6 billion in sales, up 15%.
OTA is cautiously optimistic about the future, with the caveat that as demand for organic continues to boom and accessibility to organic products increases, the industry is facing some critical challenges, including the following:
- U.S. farmland is not being converted to organic at the pace needed to meet the growing demand for organic foods.
- Supplies of organic feed and organic grain have been tight and costly, which could limit growth, especially in the organic dairy and meat sectors.
- There is lingering confusion among consumers about just what “organic” means. The message of organic can be lost next to the presence of “natural” products and the long debate around GMOs.
What organic items do you purchase most frequently? What issues surrounding labeling such as “organic,” “natural,” “non-GMO” or others do you find most confusing? Share your thoughts with [email protected]