Organic Foods

What Is Organic?

Organic Sales

The U.S. organic industry grew 21% overall to reach $17.7 billion in consumer sales in 2006, according to The Organic Trade Association's 2007 Manufacturer Survey. Organic foods grew 16.2% in 2005 and accounted for $13.8 billion in sales. Non-food organic products (personal care products, nutritional supplements, household cleaners, flowers, pet food, and clothing, bedding and other products from organic fibers such as flax, wool, and cotton) grew 26%, to total $938 million in U.S. sales in 2006.

Organic foods and beverages continue to be one of the fastest growing segments in the overall $598 billion food market. According to the OTA survey, the $16.7 million in consumer sales of organic foods and beverages in 2006 represents an increase in market penetration from 2.5% of total U.S. food sales in 2005 to 2.8% in 2006. This represents a two-percentage-point increase from 0.8% in 1997 when tracking of organic food sales began. The fastest-growing food categories and their rates of growth over the previous year are organic meat (29%), organic dairy products (25%), and organic fruits and vegetables (24%). The fastest-growing non-food categories are organic pet food (36.7%), household products/cleaners (31.6%), and fiber linens and clothing (26.9%).

Organic foods are increasingly sold in mass market grocery stores, which represent the largest single distribution channel, accounting for 38% of organic food sales in 2006. Large natural food chains, along with small natural food chains or independent natural groceries and health food stores, represented about 44% of organic food sales. About 2% of organic food is sold through farmer's markets.

Source: The Organic Trade Association (OTA) and Organic Trade Association's 2007 Manufacturer Survey. (Because USDA does not yet do comprehensive market studies of organic sales, as it does for conventional U.S. agriculture, OTA performs this research on the industry for its members and the public.)