GREENFIELD, Mass. — The Organic Trade Association revealed Thursday findings from its 2010 Organic Industry Survey, which indicated that sales of organic products continued to grow during 2009 despite the distressed state of the economy.
Organic fruits and vegetables, which represent 38% of total organic food sales, experienced the most growth, reaching nearly $9.5 billion in sales in 2009, up 11.4% from 2008. Organic fruits and vegetables now represent 11.4% of all U.S. fruit and vegetable sales.
Sales of organic fruits and vegetables have grown from $2.55 billion to nearly the $9.5 billion level since the approval of the final National Organic Program rule published in 2000, the OTA said.
The mass market channel had the lion’s share of organic food sales in 2009, with 54% of organic being sold through mainstream grocers, club stores and retailers. Natural retailers were next, with 38% of total organic food sales. Farmers’ markets, co-ops and CSA (community-supported agriculture) operations gained a lot of interest as consumers increasingly look for locally and regionally produced organic foods, the survey said, but it still represents a small share of sales.
“While total U.S. food sales grew by only 1.6% in 2009, organic food sales grew by 5.1%. Meanwhile, organic nonfood sales grew by 9.1%, as opposed to total nonfood sales which had a 1% negative sales growth rate. These findings are indicative that even in tough times, consumers understand the benefits that organic products offer and will make other cuts before they give up products they value,” said Christine Bushway, executive director at the OTA.
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