The Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) 2017 Organic Industry Survey released on Wednesday showed organic sales in the U.S. totaled around US$47 billion in 2016, reflecting new sales of almost US$3.7 billion from the previous year.
Of the total, a record US$43 billion corresponded to organic food sales, marking the first time the U.S. organic food market was broken though the US$40-billion mark.
Organic food now accounts for more than 5.3% of total food sales in this country, the according to the report.
It added organic food sales increased by 8.4% year-on-year, far higher than the 0.6% growth rate in the overall food market. Sales of organic non-food products were up 8.8% in 2016, also surpassing the overall non-food growth rate of 0.8%.
The US$15.6-billion organic fruits and vegetables sector held onto its position as the largest of the organic food categories, accounting for almost 40% of all organic food sales.
Posting an 8.4% growth rate – almost triple the 3.3% growth pace of total fruit and vegetable sales – organic fruits and vegetables now make up almost 15% of the produce that Americans eat.
The OTA said produce had traditionally been the entry category for consumers new to organic, in large part because in the produce aisle the benefits of organic are probably the easiest to understand.
In produce, grab-and-go salads and ready-to-eat veggies (fresh or frozen), were top sellers.
“Organic products of all sorts are now found in the majority of kitchens and households across our country,” OTA CEO and executive director Laura Batcha said.
“But the organic sector is facing challenges to continue its growth. We need more organic farmers in this country to meet our growing organic demand, and the organic sector needs to have the necessary tools to grow and compete on a level playing field.
“That means federal, state and local programs that help support organic research, and provide the organic farmer with a fully equipped tool kit to be successful.”