North America’s organic market growing

Organic markets in North America have continued to grow since the downfall of the market in the 2008 recession. The National Organic Program developed national standards over a decade ago in the United States, and the organic market continues to expand in both size and sales. The Organic Trade Association’s 2014 overview, “expects demands to continue to grow as more consumers learn the benefits of organic products, begin to trust food labels and seek out organic products within grocery stores.”

The United States has experienced an organic acreage and production increase over the last five years; however it has not kept pace with the increase in demands. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, the United States had over 2 million farms in 2012 equalling 914 million acres.

Although organic farms accounted for less than 1% of all national farms and sales within the United States in 2012, in terms of market penetration, the farm value of the fruit sector accounted for over 3% of the total U.S. fruit sector and the organic vegetable sector comprised 7% of the total share within the country. “Big commodity crops like soy, corn, and wheat are not grown organically nearly as much as high-value crops like fruit and vegetables,” explains Cathy Greene of the USDA, “Our production follows demand and organic imports help us fill in the gaps.”
In 2013 organic food products generated $35.1 billion in sales with a $3.6 billion growth in the last year. During the last three years the average growth for the organic market has been 10% which is compared to the conventional market’s 3%. However, the organic market only accounts for approximately 4% of the overall food market within the United States.

The Canadian organic market saw similar increases having tripled its income from 2006 to $3.5 billion in 2012 exceeding all other agri-food sectors within the country. Canadian organic food and non-alcoholic beverages accounts for $3 billion in revenues. British Columbia also continues to be the province most dedicated to organic growing methods with almost 7% of the province buying organic.
The increase of organic products partly relies on initiatives developed by large retailers who work with consumer demand. “When large retailers expand their offerings, it expands the market,” states Greene, “Surveys have shown that consumers prefer organically produced food because of their concerns regarding health, the environment, and animal welfare, and they show a willingness to pay the price premiums established in the marketplace. Organic products have shifted from being a lifestyle choice for a small share of consumers to being consumed at least occasionally by a majority of Americans.”

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