The state of the organic industry in 2018

A panel of experts convened at Natural Products Expo West to examine trends, innovation and regulatory issues in organic today. Watch the wide-ranging discussion to understand what's impacting organic and where it is going.

3 Min Read
The state of the organic industry in 2018

“Supply chains are changing, and just being a supplier isn’t enough anymore. It’s about relationships. It’s about being a supplier than can help brands connect with the farmer to do sustainability initiatives and add value throughout the supply chain, and to give us what we want in terms of integrity and assurances. The supply chain world is changing and ingredient suppliers are going to need to change with it.”

Matt Dillon, Clif Bar and Company


  • Growth in organic produce and dairy remains strong with a big increase in grab-and-go and packaged items.

  • Oversaturation in organic dairy is pushing milk to be innovative and expand distribution into in other products and markets.



Part 2: How do plant-based products effect innovation? 


  • The effect of plant-based milk on the organic dairy market spurs the need for consumer education about organic vs. conventional dairy. 

  • In the shift to plant-based products, is organic getting its fair share of recognition?

  • More research about the nutritional benefits of organic is needed to show health attributes and drive consumers to organic.



Part 3: Animal welfare standards and the new administration


  • The organic industry spent 10 years coming to an agreement on how to address animal welfare standards in the National Organic Program.

  • The current administration (USDA) is trying to unwind the newly introduced animal welfare standards, causing the Organic Trade Association to file a lawsuit.

  • Consumers and other activist groups are seeing the non-implementation of the standards as a reason to show less support for organic and are looking at how other labels can uphold integrity.



Part 4: Innovation


  • Consumers are becoming more educated and seeking in-depth nutrition information.

  • Grain-free foods, which are not the same as gluten free, are hot.

  • Whole Foods Market is no longer the main place for product innovation to take root.

  • The influx of capital from Big Food allows for increased expertise and resources for entrepreneurs.



Part 5: Organic imports and exports in the U.S.


  • World leaders in the organic industry seek U.S. advice on innovation and trends.

  • Sustainability, eco-consciousness and trust issues in food are driving global organic industry growth.

  • The top U.S. imports are soybeans, coffee, bananas, olive oil, avocado, honey, corn and sugar.

  • The U.S. cannot function in the organic industry without global trade.


Part 6: When companies cheat USDA organic regulations


  • There are several initiatives to reduce incidences of fraud.

  • Every part of the supply chain, international or otherwise, is responsible for organic integrity.

  • The industry continues to focus on education and expertise.



Part 7: Domestic production growth

  • How do we incentivize farmers to produce a full rotation of organic crops in the United States?

  • We must close the 30 percent to 40 percent yield gap in organic farming vs. conventional farming.

  • Improving accessibility and affordability for the consumer are opportunities to close the gap.



Part 8: Testing and quality assurance maintain integrity

  • Testing enables us to understand risks and how we can improve our ability to meet consumer expectations.

  • Testing is a method to improve integrity, but it does not replace the need to develop a relationship with the supplier.

  • Suppliers need to be educated on industry demands and challenges.

This session—The State of the Organic Industry—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018. Click "download" below to access the presentation slides.

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