Organic food sales hit new highs in 2015

by Monica Watrous
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The US organic industry posted largest dollar gain ever in 2015. 

WASHINGTON – Sales of organic products in the United States rose 11 percent to a record $43.3 billion in 2015, outpacing the overall food market’s growth rate of 3 percent, according to a recent report from the Organic Trade Association.

The US organic industry posted its largest dollar gain ever last year with $4.2 billion in new sales, up from the $3.9 billion increase recorded in 2014. Of the $43.3 billion in total organic sales, food sales accounted for $39.7 billion, up 11 percent from the year before, while non-food organic products contributed $3.6 billion, up 13 percent.

The organic industry’s dynamic growth may be attributed to greater accessibility, as mainstream retailers offer more organic options than before. Nearly 5 percent of all food sold in the United States is now organic.

These record results came in spite of supply challenges, as organic production in the United States lagged behind consumption.

Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the OTA

“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,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the OTA “Despite all the challenges, the organic industry saw its largest dollar growth ever. Organic will continue to be the most meaningful farm-to-fork – and fiber – system.”

Organic produce, the largest organic category, had sales of $14.4 billion in 2015, up 10.6 percent from the year before. Almost 13 percent of produce sold in the United States is organic, the OTA said.

The fastest-growing subcategory, however, was organic fresh juices and drinks, which grew 33.5 percent in 2015. Of the eight major organic categories, the fastest-growing was condiments, surpassing $1 billion in sales for the first time, with 18.5 percent growth.

 
The fastest-growing subcategory was organic fresh juices and drinks. 

Dairy, which accounts for 15 percent of total organic food sales, reached $6 billion in sales in 2015, up 10 percent over the prior year.

“Whole foods – produce and dairy – are driving the market,” Batcha said. “Together, they account for more than half of total organic food sales. The organic market looks like a healthy plate.”

Organic dairy and grains may have recorded more growth last year if greater supply were available, the OTA said. Despite persisting supply issues, however, Batcha expressed confidence in the industry’s future growth.

“Organic is a bright spot in agriculture and the economy of America,” she said. “Our success will continue to be built on a solid foundation of stakeholder engagement, transparency and meaningful organic standards that consumers trust in.”

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