With market volatility and pantry loading subsiding, industry growth is shifting back toward historic trends, according to the Organic Trade Association’s latest Industry Survey.
Following an unprecedented year marked by pantry loading and supply shortages, the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) latest Organic Industry Survey shows consumers returned to more stable, buy-as-you-need shopping patterns in 2021. Between 2020 and 2021, organic sales surpassed $63 billion, with $1.4 billion (2 percent) total growth over the year. Food sales, which comprise over 90 percent of organic sales, rose to $57.5 billion (roughly 2 percent growth), and non-food sales reached $6 billion in sales (7 percent growth).
Like every other industry, organic has been through many twists and turns over the last few years, but the industry’s resilience and creativity has kept us going strong,” says OTA CEO and Executive Director Tom Chapman. “In 2020, organic significantly increased its market foothold as Americans took a closer look at the products in their home and gravitated toward healthier choices. When pandemic purchasing habits and supply shortages began to ease in 2021, we saw the strongest performance from categories that were able to remain flexible, despite the shifting landscape. That ability to adapt and stay responsive to consumer and producer needs is a key part of organic’s continued growth and success.”
Fruits & Vegetables
Organic fruits and vegetables accounted for 15 percent of the total product market and brought in over $21 billion in revenue in 2021; an approximately 4.5 percent increase over 2020. Fresh produce and dried beans, fruits, and vegetables drove growth in the category, showing 6 and 6.5 percent growth over the year, respectively.
Frozen and canned foods declined slightly as consumers reduced pantry loading. Packaging on produce has increased since the beginning of the pandemic, as some shoppers perceived that it might better protect food from airborne viruses. It is as yet unclear if this trend will continue, however, as organic food shoppers historically have preferred less packaging and plastic use.