Throughout America, folks can't get enough of organic. From the Atlantic Seaboard to the Pacific Coast, from Detroit to Houston, households of all sizes and income levels, and individuals of all ages, ethnic backgrounds and political leanings are buying organic.
Sales of organic food and non-food products in the United States broke through another record in 2014, totaling $39.1 billion, up 11.3 percent from the previous year, according to the latest survey on the organic industry from the Organic Trade Association (OTA).
Despite the industry struggling with tight supplies of organic ingredients, organic food sales in 2014, at $35.9 billion, posted an 11 percent rise, while organic non-food sales, at $3.2 billion, jumped almost 14 percent for the biggest annual increase in six years.
In blue states and red states, across the heartland of America and all along the Gulf Coast, sales of organic products are posting double-digit increases. The majority of American households in all regions of the country now make organic a part of their supermarket and retail purchases—from 68 to almost 80 percent of households in southern states, to nearly 90 percent on the West Coast and in New England, according to new market research released Wednesday at OTA's Annual Policy Conference.
"On the heels of organic sales now nearing a milestone 5 percent share of the total food market, organic stakeholders have gathered in Washington to educate lawmakers and policymakers. Our latest industry data show robust demand and great opportunity for the organic sector," said Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of OTA. "OTA's consumer survey has already found that organic doesn't have any demographic boundaries; this additional new data prove it doesn't have regional or partisan boundaries."
OTA's Organic Industry Survey is the most accurate and comprehensive quantitative picture of the U.S. organic industry available. It was conducted and produced by Nutrition Business Journal. Over 200 companies responded to the survey, conducted this year from February 10 through April 3. The full survey will be available in mid-May through OTA.
Also released at the conference were the results of data collected from over 100,000 households across the country through IRI Shopper Network of bar code items purchased at supermarkets and other retail outlets. Compiled by SPINS, a market research firm for the organic and natural industry, the findings show booming growth trends for organic, and an increasing penetration by organic into conventional channels.
The U.S. organic sector has expanded significantly since OTA first began tracking the industry's performance in 1997. In 1997, organic food sales totaled around $3.4 billion, and accounted for under 1 percent of total food sales. In 2014, organic food claimed almost 5 percent of the total food sales in the U.S., and has consistently far outshone the 3 percent growth pace for the total food industry.
Organic fruits and vegetables continued to be the biggest-selling organic category in 2014 with $13 billion in sales, up 12 percent from the previous year, and making up more than 36 percent of all organic food sales. Of all the produce now sold in the United States, 12 percent of it is organic, a market share that has more than doubled in the past ten years when organic produce sales accounted for only 5 percent of the fruit and vegetable market.
The organic dairy sector posted an almost 11 percent jump in sales in 2014 to $5.46 billion, the biggest percentage increase for that category in six years.
Sales of organic non-food products—accounting for 8 percent of the total organic market—posted the biggest percentage gain in six years, with sales of organic fiber and organic personal care products the stand-out categories.
"In this most political of towns, it's nice to talk about something that is non-partisan, and that is today's organic market," said Batcha. "Organic cuts across all regions, all ages, all income groups, all states whether they're red states or blue states. Organic is the face of America."