“We have had our setbacks in terms of yields,” he said, referencing the East Coast apple shortage. “But the trend is still growing.”
Several studies have been publicized that help demonstrate these increases, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service’s “2011 Certified Organic Production Survey,” released in October.
“With over $3.5 billion in total farm-gate sales, organic ranks fifth among commodity classes and is larger than peanuts and cotton combined,” said Christine Bushway, chief executive officer and executive director of the Brattleboro, Vt.-based Organic Trade Association.
Other results published in the USDA survey include that certified organic farms generated $1.1 billion in vegetable sales and $494.8 million in fruit sales. Organic berries accounted for $125.3 million in farm sales.
Room for growth
“Prior to the economy dipping from 2002-08, the organic industry was on a roll, growing at a nearly 20% clip,” said Simcha Weinstein, director of marketing for Albert’s Organics, Bridgeport, N.J.
Since then, the growth has slowed, though it has remained around 9%, a higher rate than the overall food industry, according to Weinstein. However, he said he expects the rate to increase.
“We expect that the organic food market will surge at a (compound annual growth rate) of around 14% during 2011-15,” he said, referencing a study by RNCOS, a market research and information analysis company based in Noida, India.
Others agree that coming years look to be profitable.
“Despite the recession we’ve been experiencing in our country, I feel very optimistic about the growth of the organic market,” said Denise Ryan, external relations director for the Organic Farming Research Foundation, Santa Cruz, Calif. “It’s an extremely exciting opportunity for America. It’s unique that we are in an economic situation where we have demand exceeding supply.”