If you think organic is taking a back seat to clean label when it comes to consumers’ food and beverage choices, think again. While clean label is definitely one of the hot topics, the farm to fork movement is big business for retailers.
According to results of the 2014 Organic Survey from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), 14,093 certified and exempt organic farms in the United States sold a total of $5.5 billion in organic products in 2014, up 72 percent since 2008. What’s more, 10 states accounted for 78 percent of U.S. organic sales in 2014, with California leading the nation with $2.2 billion. The top five commodities in organic sales were milk ($1.08 billion), eggs ($420 million), broiler chickens ($372 million), lettuce ($264 million) and apples ($250 million).
Data found 63 percent of U.S. organic farms reported selling products to wholesale markets. Those sales accounted for 78 percent of U.S. organic farm sales. Wholesale markets, such as buyers for supermarkets, processors, distributors, packers and cooperatives, were serving as the marketing channel of choice for U.S. organic farmers to get organic agriculture products to customers.
This latest data from USDA supports the recent data from the Organic Trade Association (OTA) that found U.S. sales of organic food and non-food products broke another record in 2014, totaling $39.1 billion, up 11.3 percent from the previous year. And despite the industry struggling with tight supplies of organic ingredients, organic food sales rose 11 percent in 2014 to reach $35.9 billion, while organic non-food sales grew 14 percent to $3.2 billion.
In 2014, organic fruits and vegetables continued to be the biggest-selling organic category in reaping $13 billion in sales, up 12 percent from 2013, and making up more than 36 percent of all organic food sales. 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. The organic snack sector grew by 15 percent in 2014.
Interestingly, consumer demand for natural and organic products is driving growth in the frozen food sector after several years of challenges and declining sales. Sales of the collective frozen food categories dinners/entrées, pizzas, side dishes, and appetizers/snacks will reach $23 billion in 2019.