The number of certified organic operations in the United States increased by about 12% from 2014 to 2015, representing the highest rate of growth since 2008, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Monday.
Since the USDA's count of the organic sector began in 2002, the number has grown by 300 percent, according to data from the Agricultural Marketing Service's National Organic Program. There are now 21,781 certified organic operations in the US serving a domestic organic product retail market valued at about $39 billion. Globally, the market for organic products is more than $75 billion.
"Organic food is one of the fasting growing segments of American agriculture," said agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack. "As consumer demand for organic products continues to grow, the USDA organic seal has become a leading global standard. The increasing number of organic operations shows that USDA's strong support for the vibrant organic sector is helping to create jobs and opportunities in rural communities."
As the market for organic food continues to grow, consumers are also increasingly seeking local or regional food products. The release of the latest data on organic producers comes after the USDA's announcement on April 1, previously reported by Powder & Bulk Solids, that more than $90 million is available in grants are now available to aid development of local and regional food systems.
The tremendous growth of organic producers may be attributable to the USDA's efforts to help streamline the process for organic certification, federal funding and grants for organic initiatives, and the USDA's digital efforts to provide producers with technical, business and financial support.
Releasing the data through the Organic Integrity Database, a recently-launched USDA database created through the 2014 Farm Bill, the data on the increasing number of organic producers is one example of the federal department's broader efforts to provide more detailed market research on organic food products to the public, business community, and decision makers.
by John S. Forrester, managing editor of Powder & Bulk Solids. He can be reached at [email protected]