By Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

BRATTLEBORO, VT., April 21 – The U.S. organic industry grew at a rate of nearly 8% in 2010, bucking the flat-lined trend for many other segments of the economy. Some sectors of the organic market enjoyed annual growth of over 30%, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) announced Thursday in releasing findings from its “2011 Organic Industry Survey.” In 2010, the organic industry set a new record, topping $28.68 billion in value.

Total U.S. Organic Sales & Growth, 2002-2010 ($mil consumer sales)


Source: Organic Trade Association's 2010 Organic Industry Survey, conducted Dec. 12, 2010 to March 7, 2011.

“While total U.S. food sales grew by less than 1% in 2010, the organic food industry grew by 7.7%,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s CEO and Executive Director. “Consumers continue to vote with their dollars in favor of the organic choice. These results illustrate the positive contribution organic agriculture and trade make to our economy, and particularly to rural livelihoods.”

Bushway explained “The good news is that even as the economic recovery crawls forward, the organic industry is thriving – and hiring.” In 2010, 40% of surveyed organic companies reported positive full-time employment growth. Companies with fewer than five employees were least likely to add full-time employees (23%). About half of companies with more than 50 employees experienced positive full-time employment growth. What’s more, in 2011, 46% of respondents anticipate an increase in employment over 2010 levels. In addition, 50% expect employment to remain even, and only 5% foresee a decrease.

Report details include:

Sales growth of 7.8% for the U.S. organic market in 2010 was a significant improvement over the 5.3% growth experienced in 2009. Sales growth is still down from the 19% compound annual growth rate for combined organic food and non food posted from 2002 to 2008.”

Organic sales growth continued to outpace total sales of comparable conventional food and non food items, which continued a flat to downward trend in 2010. While organic food sales grew 8% in 2010, total food sales were up less than 1%.”

Organic non food sales experienced stronger 10% growth, while total comparable non food item sales grew only 3%, however, organic products continue to account for only a small share of total product sales. Organic food share has grown to 4% of total food sales while organic non food still accounts for only about 0.5% of total comparable non food sales.”

“Experiencing the most growth, organic fruits and vegetables, which represent 39.7% of total organic food value, and nearly 12% of all U.S. fruit and vegetable sales, reached nearly $10.6 billion in 2010, up 11.8% from 2009 performance. Organic dairy, the second-largest category, experienced 9% growth to achieve a value of $3.9 billion, and captured nearly 6% of the total U.S. market for dairy products.”

“In the organic non-food sector, organic supplements led, with a value of $681 million, representing 7.4% growth over 2009 figures. Organic fiber (linen and clothing) totaled a value of $605 million, achieving 16% year-over-year growth. Personal care products, at $490 million, increased 6.6% from 2009.”

The buy OTA's 63-page “2011 Organic Industry Survey,” at $795 for OTA members and $1,495 for non-members, click HERE. Or e-mail Angela Jagiello.

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