Organic Industry Surpasses $30 Billion Threshold in 2011

The U.S. organic industry continued its path of growth in 2011, rising 9.5% to $31.5 billion in sales, according to the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) 2012 Organic Industry Survey.

The industry surpassed the $30 billion threshold for the first time – and this was in a year of significantly rising food prices.

Quick Facts:

  • Organic food sales represent 4.2% of all U.S. food sales, up from 4% in 2010
  • 6% of all dairy sold in the US is organic
  • 78% of families buy organic
  • there are 17,600 organic farms (4.6 million acres), ranches and businesses
  • organic farms are 35% more profitable than conventional ones
  • organic jobs are growing at four times the national average and 94% of employers say they will maintain or add employees this year. It was among the few industries that added jobs during the recession.

The organic food and beverage sector was valued at $29.22 billion and the organic non-food sector (flowers, linens, clothes, personal care, cleaners) reached $2.2 billion.

"People are increasingly engaged and discerning when they shop, making decisions based on their values and awareness about health and environmental concerns. For them, it matters whether foods are genetically engineered, or produced using practices that are good for their families. Price is still an issue, but with the wide availability of private label products and many venues for organic products, they have many more choices now," says Christine Bushway, OTA CEO.

Organic product sales continue to outpace conventional countersparts, which grew 4.7% in 2011, showing that people are willing to pay for value-added products.

Organic foods grew by $2.5 billion during 2011, half of that in fruits and vegetables. Meat, fish & poultry posted 13% growth, but are still the smallest of the eight organic food categories.

Food Categories:

– Fruits & Vegies: 40.5%
– Dairy: 14.6%
– Packaged/ Prepared Foods: 13.6%
– Beverages: 12.1%  
– Breads & Grains: 10.7%
– Snacks: 4.5%
– Condiments: 2.1%
– Meat, Poutry, Fish: 1.8%

Organic non-food sales, which reached $2.2 billion in 2011, experienced strong 11% growth compared to conventional items, which grew 5%. Still, this category, which includes everything from flowers to pet food to household cleaners and linens, remains a tiny share of the industry at just 7%. But that’s double where it was in 2003.

Non-Food Categories:

– Supplements: 33.7%
– Fiber (Linens & Clothes): 32.3%
– Personal Care: 24.4%
– Pet Food: 4.6%
– Household Products: 2.9%
– Flowers: 2.2%

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