The US organic market grew by 6.3% in 2018, surpassing the 50-billion-dollar mark. The organic market is largely driven by consumer demand pushing for transparency and integrity in the food supply chain. Reaching this level means it is no longer a niche market, it is considered mainstream, and companies will need to adapt to and comply with standards that the customer demands.
Still, the stalwart of the organic industry, sales of organic fruits and vegetables rose to $17.4 billion in 2018 for a 5.6 percent rate of growth, on par with the growth attained in 2017. By comparison, the overall fruits and vegetable category, including both organic and conventional products, grew by just 1.7 percent in 2018.
Fruits and vegetables now account for 36.3 percent of all organic food sales. Organic fruits and vegetable make up close to 15 percent (14.6 percent) of all the produce sold in the U.S. and have nearly doubled their market share in the last ten years.
Produce is a gateway to organic for consumers, especially Millennials and those with young families. Industry experts note that the more people learn about health and wellness, the more people buy fresh produce.
Production is following the demand
With the growing customer demand and the more products to support organic farmers, there is now 4 million acres of organic farmland in the USA, that is up 6% over 2014. While it may not be shocking that hotbeds of consumer demand for organic food such as California and New York are among the leading states in the total acreage of organic farmland—with 688,000 acres, California is No. 1—Montana, Wisconsin, and North Dakota rounding out the top five is something of a surprise. Montana’s 30 percent increase of 100,000 acres of organic acreage since 2014 bumps it into the No. 2 spot, while North Dakota’s increase of more than 40,000 acres pushes it past Oregon, which now ranks sixth. Colorado and Texas round out the top eight.
Sources: Organic Trade Association and USDA