The Organic Trade Association reports that organic food sales in 2019 surpassed $50 billion, including $18 billion for organic produce.
“The category continues to be the star of the organic sector and often the starting point for organic food buying,” OTA wrote in a news release. “Millennials and younger generations have grown up with organic and remain the growth drivers for this category.
“Organic produce makes up almost a third of all organic food sales, and organic fruits and vegetables — including fresh, frozen, canned and dried — have now captured 15% of the fruits and vegetables market in this country,” OTA wrote.
The report describes the $18 billion in organic produce sales for 2019 as a nearly 5% increase from the previous year.
The United Fresh Produce Association’s FreshFacts on Retail 2019 Year in Review, which uses retail scan data from Nielsen, lists organic sales for fresh produce specifically as $5.9 billion, up 5.5% from 2018. Per the report, organic fresh vegetables surpassed $3.3 billion in 2019, up 3.8% from 2018, and organic fresh fruit made nearly $2.2 billion, up 7.0%.
OTA’s recently released 2020 Organic Industry Survey indicates continued interest in organics from many shoppers.
“Our 2020 survey looks at organic sales in 2019 before the coronavirus outbreak, and it shows that consumers were increasingly seeking out the organic label to feed their families the healthiest food possible,” Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of OTA, said in the release. “The pandemic has only increased our desire for clean, healthy food. Our normal lives have been brought to a screeching halt by the coronavirus. The commitment to the organic label has always resided at the intersection of health and safety, and we expect that commitment to strengthen as we all get through these unsettled times.”
The outlook for organic in the immediate wake of the pandemic is uncertain, according to OTA. Organic sales growth could slow because many consumers may be more price-sensitive, or growth could remain steady as consumers look for “cleaner” products in an effort to protect their health.
“It’s hard to know what’s ahead of us, but consumers will continue to trust in and depend on the organic label,” Batcha said in the release. “Organic producers and processors — indeed the entire organic supply chain — have been working around the clock through this difficult time to keep our stores filled with healthy, toxic-free and sustainably produced organic food and products. Organic is going to be there for the consumer.”