The industry saw its largest annual dollar gain in 2015, adding US$4.2 billion in sales, an increase from the US$3.9 billion in new sales in 2014. Out of the total sales of US$43.4 billion, US$39.7 billion were organic food sales while non-food organic products accounted for US$3.6 billion. Nearly 5 percent of all food sold in the US is organic.
Graph: Organic Trade Association
Reflecting on the organic food and beverage industry that has been plagued by supply issues, OTA’s CEO and executive director Laura Batcha said: “The industry joined in collaborative ways to invest in infrastructure and education, and individual companies invested in their own supply chains to ensure a dependable stream of organic products for the consumer. Despite all the challenges, the organic industry saw its largest dollar growth ever. Organic will continue to be the most meaningful farm-to-fork—and fibre—system.”
Organic produce remains the largest of all organic categories with sales of US$14.4 billion, up 10.6 percent. Dairy, the second biggest organic food category, accounted for $6.0 billion in sales, an increase of over 10 percent.
The demand for fresh organic was most evident in the continued growth of ‘fresh juices and drinks’, which saw a growth of 33.5 percent in 2015, making it the fastest-growing of all the organic subcategories. The fastest-growing of the eight major organic categories was condiments, which crossed the $1 billion mark in sales for the first time in 2015, with an 18.5 percent growth.
Also seeing a big growth in sales in 2014 – and more than triple the level of just 10 years ago — was the organic snack food category, with sales of $2.3 billion, up almost 14 percent from 2014.
“Farm fresh foods—produce and dairy—are driving the market. Together, they account for more than half of total organic food sales,” Ms Batcha observed. “The organic market looks like a healthy plate.”
Organic non-food products continue to gain in popularity, with an almost 13 percent growth rate in sales. Growth in the non-food category was led by organic fibre, followed closely by organic supplements.
Increased consumer demand for organic products in 2015 could also be attributed to greater accessibility to these products from mainstream retailers like supermarkets. There are still continued challenges in the supply chain, most notably in dairy and grains.
There is an industry-wide understanding of the need to build a secure supply chain that can support demand. This goes hand-in-hand with securing more organic acreage, developing programmes to help farmers’ transition to organic, and encouraging new farmers to farm organically.