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US Sales of Organic Food Hit Record High in 2015
May 19, 2016
2 Min Read
The USDA's Certified Organic seal
Sales of organic foods in the United States totaled $43.3 billion, an 11% jump from the previous year’s record and a new record for organic food sales, a survey from the Organic Trade Association (OTA) released Thursday said.
The OTA’s “2016 Organic Industry Survey” noted that the growth of organic food sales in the US was the “largest annual dollar gain ever,” and that the sector’s growth was significantly higher than the overall US food market’s growth rate of 3%.
“2015 was a year of significant growth for the industry, despite the continued struggle to meet the seemingly unquenchable demand for organic,” a press release announcing the report remarked. “Supply issues persisted to dominate the industry, as organic production in the US lagged behind consumption.”
Because of the challenges facing organic producers in the country and ever-increasing demand, the OTA said the industry had to develop creative ways of addressing supply issues, improve or create infrastructure, and advocate for policies that may advance the organic sector.
“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,” said OTA’s chief executive officer and executive director Laura Batcha in the release.
Organic produce made up the largest share of sales ($14.4 billion), followed by organic dairy products ($6 billion). The report observed that the fastest growing area of organic food categories was condiments, which grew by 18.5% in 2015 and generated more than $1 billion in sales for the first time.
“Farm fresh foods – produce and dairy – are driving the market. Together they account for more than half of total organic food sales,” Batcha said.
The OTA posited that the tremendous growth in 2015 could possibly be attributed to wider availability of organic products in mainstream retail outlets – from regional grocery store chains to big box stores like Walmart.
While the organization celebrated the numbers, OTA said that sales of organic grains could have been greater than reported if a larger supply were available.
US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released a statement in response to the report, remarking that United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made progress on its end to make organic production more viable for America’s farmers.
“Under the Obama administration, we’ve made transformative investments to help the organic sector thrive by making certification more attainable, providing more support for organic operations, and expanding international markets,” said Secretary Vilsack.
In order to continue the growth, the OTA said that supply chain problems need to be addressed, as well as increasing acres of organic farmland, supporting programs that help farmers obtain organic certification, and promoting organic agriculture to new farmers.
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