Growth in the organic food category continues to far outpace food sales growth in general. A new survey of more than 200 processors, distributors and retailers of organic products from the Organic Trade Association shows overall growth in the organic category, including non-food items, climbed 17.1 percent from 2007 to 2008, while overall food sales growth was 4.9 percent over the same period. The organic meat, poultry and seafood segment grew 12.1 percent over the same period. The strongest organic growth areas are organic breads and grains (35 percent) and beverages (40 percent).

Organic meat, poultry and seafood "is becoming a mature market – but it’s not yet a mature market," Barbara Hausmann, spokesperson for the OTA, told "The good news is that there’s still a tremendous amount of consumer interest in these products."

Organic meats and poultry remain a miniscule part of the overall meat and poultry market – Hausmann says organics contribute 0.34 percent to overall meat and poultry sales, while organic foods in general not contribute nearly 3.5 percent of total U.S. food sales, up from less than two percent as recently as 2003. But with the evidence of continuing consumer interest in the category, "there’s still a lot of territory to gain," she said. Within the segment, valued at $448 million for 2008 by OTA, poultry is the largest portion. Hausmann did not have new numbers at hand, but said that in 2006 overall organic meat, poultry and seafood sales totaled $330 million; $209 million of that total, more than 63 percent, came from poultry. Sales of meat, poultry and seafood total about two percent of overall organic food sales.

She added that in 2007 and 2008, organic producers faced shortages of certified organic feedgrains, limiting organic livestock production and thus meat and poultry production.

According to the OTA survey, sales of organic foods grew by 15.8 percent from 2007 to 2008, while growth in the non-food category – 6.7 percent of the sales total -- including vitamin and nutritional supplements, organic hair-care products, recycled paper goods and other non-food items, was an impressive 39.4 percent.