By Hugh Finlay
Sales of organic food in the US increased by 8.4% in 2016, bringing the value in sales to $43 billion. This rise is even more significant when we realize that total food sales in the US only increased by 0.6%. 5.3% of the US food supply is now organic, a new high, according to the Organic Trade Association. Laura Batcha, of the OTA commented "The organic industry continues to be a real bright spot in the food and agriculture economy, both at the farm gate and the check-out counter." Examples of new outlets for organic sales are drug stores, convenience stores, internet and foodservice providers.
Fruit and vegetables are the most popular area, making up 36.6% of organic sales ($15.6 billion). The organic market now accounts for 15% of produce sold in the US. A new development is that organic poultry and meat sales increased by 17%, bringing the value of sales to $991 million. In particular, organic poultry sales increased by 23% in 2016.
But the biggest rate of growth of organic sales was in the area of spices and dips, which saw a 41% growth in 2016, bringing the value of sales to $57 million. Organic spices sales increased 35%, in 2016 to reach $193 million.
Organic non-food products (supplements, textiles and personal care products), also showed an increase in sales, in 2016, increasing by 8.8% to a value of $3.9 billion. This is significant, as the total of non-food sales in the US only increased by 0.8%.
Laura Batcha said "Organic offers in many cases the choice for growth and more stable prices for farmers and food manufacturers." This is reflected in the fact that 65% of organic farms sold their products to wholesale companies. Over 60% of the larger organic businesses felt that they will need to employ more staff in the future, to deal with growing demand for their products.
The world market for organic food is now valued at $80 billion, and Thailand is one of the countries that is catching onto the organic trend. Thailand is the main producer of organic food in south-east Asia. Their organic production is growing 7% a year, and was $80 million in 2016. In Thailand the government is hoping to have 30,000 organic farmers in the country, and to increase the area of organic farmland to 100,000 hectares, by 2021. The country's National Organic Agricultural Development Strategy is aiming to "install Thailand as the internationally recognized and sustainable hub of organic manufacturing, consumption, trading and services in the Asian region."