WASHINGTON — Organic foods registered sales growth of 6.4% in in the United States in 2017, which was down from 9% in 2016 but still above the 1.1% total food sales growth in 2017, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2018 Organic Industry Survey released May 18.
“The organic food market will see a steadier pace of growth as it matures, but it will continue to surpass the growth rate of the broader food market," said Laura Batcha, chief executive officer and executive director of the Washington-based association. “Demand for organic is flourishing as consumers seek out nutritious and clean food that is good for their health and for the environment. That demand is driving innovation, and there are now so many organic options that we can all eat organic for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and everything in between.”
The organic food market in the United States hit $45.2 billion in sales in 2017, a record. Organic food in 2017 accounted for 5.5% of the food sold in retail channels in the United States. Total organic sales in 2017 were $49.4 billion, also up 6.4%, as sales of organic non-food products rose 7.4% to $4.2 billion.
Sales growth in the organic dairy and egg category slowed to 0.9% in reaching $6.5 billion. Many producers have entered the U.S. organic dairy market in recent years, but the new wave of supply hit the market as demand for organic dairy began to shift to more plant-based offerings, according to the O.T.A. While there was an oversupply of organic milk, organic ice cream sales were up more than 9% and organic cheese sales rose by almost 8% in 2017.
Pasture-raised eggs presented competition to organic eggs in 2017, and another headwind came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture withdrawing an Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule that could have clarified federal organic standards, according to the O.T.A.
Fruit and vegetables continue to be the largest organic food category. Sales in the category grew 5.3% in 2017 to reach $16.5 billion. Organic beverage sales rose more than 10% to $5.9 billion. Within organic beverages, sales of organic fresh juice soared nearly 25% to $1.2 billion. Non-dairy organic beverage alternatives in the forms of almond, soy, coconut, rice and other blends also gained in popularity in 2017.
This year’s survey was conducted from Jan. 25 to April 22 with 250 companies taking part. Nutrition Business Journal produces the survey on behalf of the O.T.A., which has conducted the survey since 1997 when organic food sales were $3.4 billion.