Researchers at Magnify Money, a division of Lending Tree, compared the prices of conventional and organic meats, dairy items, fruit and vegetables in 2019 and today. While organic foods still cost more than conventional, the prices of conventional foods are increasing more quickly than the prices of organic foods, the researchers concluded.
The analysts considered 29 products that were available in organic and conventional versions, then compared prices for the weeks ending on the third Friday of September: Sept. 20, 2019, and Sept. 17, 2021. Since 2019, prices of these conventional foods have risen 13.9%, compared with 1.6% for organic varieties, they found.
Despite conventional foods' price increases, organic foods cost an average of 70.7% more than conventional.
Organic produce prices rose overall
Overall, organic produce prices increased 2.8%, compared with conventional produce prices' rise of 13.1%. Magnify Money noted that produce is the largest food group included in the study.
Among conventional foods, broccoli's price increased the most, 141.3%. Organic broccoli's price increased 24.3% during the two-year span.
The organic food with the greatest price increase was russet potatoes: Organic prices rose 53.6%, while conventional prices rose 14.1%. The most recent prices reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are $1.49 for organic and $0.84 for conventional. Magnify Money did not provide the 2019 prices.
The price of organic Granny Smith apples rose 49.9%, compared with a 42.3% increase for conventional Granny Smiths.
Oddly, the only organic produce item that is cheaper than conventional is sweet onions, with the organic variety costing $1.11, compared with $1.23 for conventional—a difference of $0.12 or 9.9% per pound, Magnify Money reported. Since 2019, the organic price has dropped 25.5%, while the conventional price increased 11.8%.
Conventional dairy prices rose fastest of all categories
Overall, conventional dairy prices increased an average of 25.6% since 2019, Magnify Money reported. Conversely, organic dairy prices dropped 0.9%. The biggest price change was for a gallon of conventional milk, which increased 34.7%, compared with a 7.6% increase for the organic version.
Organic milk, cottage cheese and cheese all cost at least 50% more than their conventional counterparts.
Conventional chicken prices rose while organic fell
Although conventional chicken prices on average increased 4.9%, two cuts had double-digit price increases since 2019: boneless, skinless breast (43.8%) and whole bagged fryers (24.5%).
The cost of organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts fell 2.2% in the past two years, while the price of the whole fryer dropped 1.0%, according to Magnify Money.
Organic thigh prices dropped 20.2% compared with 17.1% for conventional; but organic drumstick prices fell only 4.2% compared with a 19.0% drop for conventional drumsticks. That's an odd juxtaposition considering that all chickens come with two thighs and two drumsticks.
Nevertheless, organic chicken still costs an average of 188.5% more than conventional. Organic chicken thigh prices are more than four times higher than the cost of conventional chicken thighs, even though the cost of both has decreased since 2019, according to Magnify Money.
Even an organic whole fryer costs more than twice what a conventional fryer costs.