WASHINGTON   — A Nielsen survey revealed organic items were found on the shelves of kitchen cupboards and in the refrigerators of 82.3 percent of American households in 2016, the Washington-based Organic Trade Association said March 23. The national average climbed 3.4 percent from 2015 to 2016.

North Dakota had the highest jump, increasing 14.2 percent from 2015 to 2016 to reach 85.6 percent of households. Following North Dakota in the ranking of biggest increases were Rhode Island, up 12.3 percent to 88.3 percent; Wyoming, up 10.8 percent to 90 percent; South Dakota, up 10 percent to 68.9 percent; and Wisconsin, up 9.1 percent to 77.6 percent.

The Nielsen study involved 100,000 households in 48 states and did not include Alaska or Hawaii.

“These new findings show how important organic has become to millions and millions of American families everywhere — to more than 80 percent of our nation’s 117 million households, more than 80 percent of Georgia’s 3.5 million households, more than 85 percent of North Dakota’s almost 300,000 households,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the Organic Trade Association. “The organic community is looking forward to working with the new leadership at USDA. We are eager to show how important adequate funding is to support a strong organic program and to help organic to continue to become a part of healthy diets of households throughout our nation, including Perdue’s home state and rural states from coast to coast.”

 “The industry relies on a few critical public institutions to support this burgeoning industry, including the (USDA’s) National Organic Program for global oversight and uniform standards and research investment targeted to organic production,” Batcha said. “Organic is fueled by consumers, and it thrives when USDA recognizes the importance of organic to rural economies and to rural households.”

Total organic food sales in 2015 were $39.7 billion, up 11 percent from 2014, according to the OTA’s 2016 US Organic Industry Survey. This spring the OTA will release its 2017 survey, which will examine the US organic market in 2016.