WASHINGTON — Organic food sales in the United States rose 5.9% in 2018 to reach $47.9 billion, according to the 2019 Organic Industry Survey released May 17 by the Organic Trade Association. Organic food sales made up 5.7% of overall U.S. food sales, which rose 2.3% in 2018.

The U.S. organic market grew 6.3% to $52.5 billion as non-food sales increased nearly 11% to reach $4.6 billion.

Sales of organic fruits and vegetables made up 36% of all organic food sales in 2018, rising 5.6% to $17.4 billion. Organic fruits and vegetables sales accounted for nearly 15% of all U.S. fruits and vegetables sales in 2018.

A movement toward milk alternatives affected sales growth in the organic dairy category. A 0.8% sales increase led to sales of $6.5 billion in organic dairy and eggs. Many millennials have moved to plant-based foods and beverages from livestock-based products, according to the association.

“Experts said that to satisfy today’s consumer, the importance of innovation in the organic dairy sector has never been greater,” the association said. “In 2018, industry responded with milk beverages with increased protein, more full-fat dairy products, new flavors and grass-fed products.”

Organic food sales chart

The Organic Trade Association pointed out millennials seek transparency and integrity in the food supply chain, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s organic seal encompasses the spectrum of non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O., no toxic pesticides or chemicals, dyes or preservatives.

“Organic is now considered mainstream, but the attitudes surrounding organic are anything but status quo,” said Laura Batcha, chief executive officer and executive director of the Washington-based Organic Trade Association. “In 2018, there was a notable shift in the mindset of those working in organic toward collaboration and activism to move the needle on the role organic can play in sustainability and tackling environmental initiatives.”

The Nutrition Business Journal produced the survey on behalf of the Organic Trade Association. More than 200 companies completed a significant portion of the survey, which was conducted from January through April this year.