Organic Sales Are Still Growing!

The sales of organic fruits and vegetables were estimated to be at $5.5 billion in 2016. According to the Organic Trade Association, this value was up by 5% over the previous years. The organization also noted that more than half of American households bought organic produce in the earlier years and that the millennials are the driving force of the sales, primarily since their purchasing powers have increased.

Millennials as The Driving Force of Organic Sales

Brian Vertrees, director of business development of Naturipe Farms LLC, noted that the sales of organic berries are up in retail stores. In fact, the sale of organic berries is the second-largest in the organic produce industry.

The growth category of organic products has not reached a plateau yet as millennials are demanding more organic products. According to Chris Glynn from Tanimura & Antle Inc., young adults are the primary drivers of the trend. As the new group becomes parents, the need for healthy food becomes their main priority.

The growth of organic produce is also driving the sales of different categories within the produce department as more consumers are not only demanding organic products but are also looking for affordable products with functional benefits. Eating organic is more than a trend and a marketing tool, it has become a way of life for many people particularly those who are looking for ways to eat healthily and sustainably.

The Shift in The Market


Consumers want to buy fresh produce that is grown in safe and sustainable methods. The growth of organic sales is a key indicator that this trend is here to stay. Many food manufacturers and industry players have expanded their line of organic products to increase their market reach.

Organic produce and products are changing the industry. Even farmers have increased their production of organic fruits by getting certified for their next harvest season. For instance, there is an increase in the production in the state of Washington in the past years; seemingly everyone is jumping on the organic bandwagon

The Future of Organics

There are many benefits of consuming organic foods. The sensitivity of consumers towards the food that they eat and how it affects their health is the reason why the organic market is widely embraced by everyone. Although many industry experts have forecasted that the organic industry will plateau, it has not happened yet and will likely not happen anytime soon. As more and more young individuals opt for healthier options more than the cost and convenience, food growers, manufacturers, and even retail stores will continue to meet the demands of the consumers. The trend will always be up as long as the younger demographics continue to buy into a healthy lifestyle.

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Consumers are Confused about “non-GMO” and “organic” Labels

The Meatingplace reported on a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. They found more results pointing to confusion amongst consumers when evaluating “non-GMO” and “organic” labels.

How the Study Worked

Researchers based their findings on a national survey of 1,132 respondents. These people were specifically asked about their willingness to pay more for food labeled as non-GMO or genetically modified. The two products that the researched focused on were a 12-pack of granola bars versus fresh apples. The evaluated how much more respondents would pay for either of these items labeled as “Non-GMO Project Verified” or “USDA Organic.”

Their Findings Showcase Confused Consumers

The team of researchers found that consumers will pay $0.35 more for a 12-pack of granola bars with the “Non-GMO Project Verified” label on the packaging. However, the “USDA Organic” label did not hold as much weight, as consumers would only pay $0.09 more for the granola bars.

When consumers looked at fresh apples, things changed. Consumers were willing to pay $0.35 more for a pound of fresh apples labeled as “Non-GMO Project Verified” while they were willing to pay $0.40 more for the same pound of fresh apples labeled as “USDA Organic.” It seems that the “USDA Organic” label carries more weight in fresh produce than processed foods based on this study.

Why are Consumers Confused?

Consumers have almost done this to themselves as they have demanded more product transparency from brands over the past few years. Food companies are scrambling to add claims that stick out and show their food is “real.” Label Insight showcased last year that consumers find it difficult to understand if a product meets their needs by looking at the package.

What’s interesting about this new study from the University of Florida is how consumers are confused about “organic” and “non-GMO.” According to the USDA, the use of GMOs is prohibited in “organic” foods. So in reality, all organic foods are “non-GMO.” However, not all “non-GMO” foods are organic. Which makes it even more interesting that consumers are willing to pay more for packaged products with the non-GMO project verified logo.

The bottom line is education is needed on this subject. As food manufacturers invest in more organic foods and certifications, they expect consumers to be willing to pay more. This could spell trouble for brand betting big on organic in 2018 and beyond.

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Growing Demand for Organic Ingredients Leads to Supply Challenges

The need for fresh ingredients by consumers has led many farmers to go into organic farming. According to data provided by the USDA, the number of organic farmers in the US has increased by almost 300% since 2002. This growth is to meet the demands of consumers who prefer organic foods more than those grown in conventional methods.

Why Is It Difficult to Completely Go Organic?

Although there is a rapid increase of organic operators in the country, it is crucial to take note that only about 0.7% of the total operable farms within the country are classified as organic.  Many farmers pointed out that the main reason why converting their conventional farmland to organic is difficult because it is expensive as well as time-consuming. In general, farmers have to wait for at least three years to be able to convert their farms. Unfortunately, during the first year of turning their land using organic practices, the produce that they grow is not sold at organic prices. Meaning, they are still paid cheap even when they are spending more on organic practices. This is leading to the supply challenges in the market.

Solutions to The Supply Challenge

To solve the supply challenges, farmers are given several incentives to make the necessary switch. These include the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) that offers first-timer organic operators the right technical assistance to grow food the organic way. But, it is not only the government that provides support. Even food manufacturers, as well as retailers, have supported and implemented programs just to encourage farmers to boost their harvest. In fact, companies like Nature’s Path Foods, Whole Foods, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farms have provided grants to organic farmers to boost their production.

While organic farmers can supply the needs of food retailers and manufacturers, another problem is where to source specialty ingredients that are not grown in the United States. The solution proposed by the government was to get into digital platforms like Mercaris Auction Platform or to trade tons of organic products into the market.

All stakeholders are doing their best to provide the resources needed by the consumers. For instance, the Organic Trade Association was set up to provide suppliers and manufacturers the necessary information about their produce such as where to source their supplies, market data, and real-time pricing.

On the other hand, retailers like restaurants and grocery stores have also worked closely with organic farm operators to give them the idea of how much they will need to sustain their businesses. For instance, retail giant Walmart has worked with local organic farmers by giving them the outline of how much they need for the entire year so that the farmers can strategize on how they will be able to deliver the demands and needs of the end users.

The truth of the matter is that, while organic farming is prevalent, the number of organic operators is still not enough to be able to create a sustainable supply of products to the retailers and consumer product companies.

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U.S. Organic Produce Leads to Record High Sales of Organic Products

With more people opting for healthier lifestyles, sales in the U.S. organic products industry was at a record high in 2015. The industry was able to amass $43.3 billion in sales revenue which is 11% higher than the previous year according to the survey conducted by the Organic Trade Association. Much of the revenue was generated by organic food sales at $39.7 billion which is ten times higher than the income produced by organic non-food products that made $3.6 billion last year.


Organic Produce Is the Backbone of the Organic Products Industry

organic produce in the grocery store applesOrganic produce is the backbone of the organic industry as it generated sales worth $14.4 billion last year. Consumers often feel a close connection with the industry via the food they eat. About 13% of the produce sold in the country is labeled organic.

The demand for organic foods is evident in the rising demand for fresh organic juices which enjoyed a 33.5% growth in the previous year. Other categories of organic produce that are in high demand include condiments and dairy which have generated $1 billion and $6 billion in sales, respectively, last year. The organic snack food category is also a major player in the industry which has seen a growth of 14% since 2014.


High Demand but Low Supply

The unprecedented development of the organic products industry was due to high demand by the consumers for organic products. However, the high demand also means supply issues as the production of organic products in the country is beyond its capacity to meet the consumption needs of the people. Nearly 5% of the foods sold in the United States are labeled organic.

The organic industry came up with different means to address this challenge as well as other issues that influenced the industry including poor infrastructure and policies. The organic industry has joined hands with other companies to fortify their supply chain so that there is a constant stream of products to support the healthier lifestyle of consumers.

organic produce grocery store

Supply Chain Challenges

Organic products have now found their way to the mainstream market. Today, many supermarkets, membership warehouse clubs, and other outlet stores provide organic offerings to consumers unlike before. However, the organic industry has experienced supply chain challenges over the recent years. For instance, the grains and dairy were two areas in the industry that could have enjoyed a more robust growth if not for the supply chain challenges.

The hurdles in the sector have led stakeholders to secure more organic acreage to grow produce, encourage new farmers to adopt organic practices, and develop programs to help experienced conventional farmers transition into the organic way of life. These initiatives were met with enthusiasm as more organic companies are working with one another to address the concerns.

Despite the problems, the organic industry stakeholders are confident about the future. They are making sure that the industry is built on transparency and the engagement of interested parties to garnish the consumers’ trust.

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