Organic sales estimates differ, but agree on growth

04/28/2011 09:04:18 AM
Tom Karst

Growth ahead?

The survey found that 78% of organic farms plan to maintain or increase organic production levels in the next five years.

Roughly 40% of organic operations added jobs in 2010, and the survey found that 96% of operations plan to maintain or increase employment opportunities in 2011.

While impressive, the 2010 growth range of organic fresh produce of better than 10% was still less than half what it was in the two or three years before the recession, Lutz said.

In 2005, for example, the Organic Trade Association reported the overall U.S. organic food industry grew at a 17% clip.

Consumers changed the way they spent their discretionary food dollars during the recession, Lutz said.

“We saw some people moving from bulk to value pack, and to see people moving from organic to conventional is another of the value decisions that some consumers either make by choice or by need,” he said.

Rising fuel prices may put consumer food budgets under additional pressure this summer, he said.

While the fuel for cars typically accounts for 16% of the household budget, Lutz said the surge in gasoline costs to over $4 per gallon could increase that the share of fuel costs to 21% or 22%.

“Fuel is eating a much bigger hole in the wallet of consumers,” he said.

Haumann said organic food has an enduring appeal.

“People are very interested in organic foods, even with rising gas prices and all,” she said.


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