U.S. sales of organic products continued to grow during 2009 despite the distressed state of the economy, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), Greenfield, Mass. Findings from its 2010 Organic Industry Survey indicate organic product sales in 2009 grew by 5.3 percent overall, to reach $26.6 billion overall. Of that, $24.8 billion represented organic food.
Experiencing the most growth, organic fruits and vegetables, which represent 38 percent of total organic food sales, reached nearly $9.5 billion in sales in 2009, up 11.4 percent from 2008. Organic fruits and vegetables now represent 11.4 percent of all U.S. fruit and vegetable sales. Since the approval of the final National Organic Program rule published in 2000, sales of organic fruits and vegetables have grown from $2.55 billion, representing approximately 3 percent of all fruit and vegetable sales, to the nearly $9.5 billion level and 11.4 percent penetration level. Meanwhile, during that time, organic food sales have grown from $6.1 billion to $24.8 billion in 2009, jumping from 1.2 percent of all U.S. food sales to 3.7 percent.
The mass-market channel had the lion's share of organic food sales in 2009, with 54 percent of organic sold through mainstream grocers, club stores and retailers. Natural retailers were next, with 38 percent of total organic food sales. Although still representing a small percentage of sales, farmers' markets, co-ops and CSA (community-supported agriculture) operations gained a lot of interest as consumers increasingly look for locally and regionally produced organic foods.
Organic supplements led the organic non-food sector with $634 million in sales, representing 35 percent of total organic non-food sales, up 12 percent higher from 2008.
"While total U.S. food sales grew by only 1.6 percent in 2009, organic food sales grew by 5.1 percent," says Christine Bushway, OTA's executive director. "Even in tough times, consumers understand the benefits that organic products offer and will make other cuts before they give up products they value."