Organic demand continues to grow, according to reports from suppliers.
The Organic Trade Association recently released its 2013 organic industry survey, which tracks U.S. organic sales.
“This survey helps to provide information to the government — which does not compile this data, current organic businesses, those interested in entering the market, investors, the media and others, to more fully understand trends in the U.S. organic industry,” Barbara Haumann, senior writer/editor for the Organic Trade Association, said in an e-mail.
The current data includes sales comparisons from 2002 to 2012, and the results show good growth in the category.
Organic food sales rose 10.2% in 2012, while conventional food sales grew by 3.7%, according to the survey.
Organic suppliers agree that the growth is significant.
“Growth is just astronomical, and we don’t see any waning on it,” said Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee, Wash.
Other companies agree.
“We’re seeing strong year-over-year growth across all categories and varieties,” said Addie Pobst, imports, sustainability, organic integrity and food safety coordinator for Viva Tierra Organic Inc., Sedro-Woolley, Wash.
To meet demand, some companies are increasing their organic offerings.
Doug Classen, sales manager for The Nunes Co., Salinas, Calif., said his company has seen good demand for the new organic products launched this year.
The company added several items to round out its organic line this year, including several types of kale and chard as well as herbs.
Classen said the items give consumers a choice and complement the organic items already offered.
“In someone wants conventional items, we have it. But if they want the full range of organics to offer that certain demographic, we provide that, too,” he said.
The economic upturn has had a large impact on the growth of the category, suppliers think.
“As we’ve seen the economy improve, we’ve seen strong rebound and growth,” said Jim Roberts, vice president of sales with Naples, Fla.-based berry grower-shipper Naturipe Farms LLC.
“The category was flat or even negative for the first time in 2009, and 2010 was a struggle. But since then, demand is now growing,” he said.