U.S. organic sales hit a record $52.5 billion in 2018, up 6.3% from the previous year.
Organic food sales accounted for $47.9 billion, an increase of 5.9% from 2017, according to the Organic Trade Association.
More than one-third of organic food sales come from fruits and vegetables. Produce sales — including all forms, not just fresh — were $17.4 billion in 2018, up 5.6%.
“Organic is now considered mainstream, but the attitudes surrounding organic are anything but status quo,” OTA executive director and CEO Laura Batcha said in a news release. “In 2018, there was a notable shift in the mindset of those working in organic toward collaboration and activism to move the needle on the role organic can play in sustainability and tackling environmental initiatives.
“Activism is a natural reaction from an industry that is really close to the consumer,” Batcha said. “When we are in an environment where government is not moving fast enough, the industry is choosing to move to meet the consumer rather than get stalled.”
The United Fresh Produce Association, in its FreshFacts on Retail report about 2018, provided some context on the growth of organic fresh produce in particular.
Organic sales of fresh produce in 2018 were $5.6 billion, up 8.7%. Organic fresh vegetable sales were up 7.1%, organic fresh fruit sales were up 10.7%, and organic fresh herbs/spices sales were up 7.9%.
Packaged salads are far and away the top organic fresh produce item in terms of dollars, while organic bananas top the list for volume. Other big-ticket fresh items for organic are apples, carrots and strawberries.