Appetite for Organic Tops $35 Billion

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The organic products industry grew to be a $35-billion business in 2013, reported the Organic Trade Association (OTA) in May 2014. The reported 11.5% increase from 2012 is the fastest growth rate in the last five years. The OTA expects this growth will continue over the next two years. “Consumers are making the correlation between what we eat and our health, and that knowledge is spurring heightened consumer interest in organic products,” said Laura Batcha, executive director and CEO of OTA.

Organic products are comprised of foods, flowers, fiber, household products and pet food. Organic food sales, which accounts for about 92% of total organic sales, were $32.3 billion in 2013. Organic food sales broke the $30 billion mark in 2012 and, according to the OTA, now accounts for more than 4% of the $760 billion in annual food sales in the United States. While total foods sales have averaged an annual average growth of 3%, the growth rate of organic food sales has grown an average of 10% every year since 2010.

Although continued growth is expected in the sale of organic products, there is still confusion among consumers about what organic means. The message of organic can be lost next to the presence of “natural” products and the long debate around GMOs, cautioned the OTA.

“The entire organic industry needs to rally around helping consumers better understand and appreciate all the values that certified organic brings to the table,” said Batcha. “Consumer education is critical to grow the organic industry,” she added.