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, 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 rose 11 percent in 2014 to reach $35.9 billion, while organic non-food sales grew 14 percent to $3.2 billion.
What began as a niche industry in the huge food sector a little more than a decade, organic food and beverage sales have continued to grow thanks to consumer interest in healthy foods. 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.
According to data released at OTA’s Annual Policy Conference, the majority of U.S. households in all regions of the country purchase organic productsfrom 68 percent to nearly 80 percent of households in southern states, to nearly 90 percent on the West Coast and in New England. The report also found Caucasian consumers bought 73 percent of organic products purchased in 2014; Hispanic consumers bought 16 percent of total organic purchases; and blacks purchased 14 percent of organic products sold.
“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."
The U.S. organic sector has expanded significantly since OTA first began tracking the industry’s performance in 1997 when organic food sales totaled around $3.4 billion, and accounted for less than 1 percent of total food sales. In 2014, organic food claimed almost 5 percent of the total food sales in the United States, and has consistently far exceeded the 3-percent growth pace for the total food industry.