Monday, April 20, 2015

Organic sales jump 11% as Americans demand cleaner food

The higher price of organic foods and other products doesn’t seem to be deterring consumers: Sales jumped 11 percent last year, an industry report says.
Sales of organics have been rapidly growing since the United States put strict rules in place and began certifying organic products in 2002. According to the Agriculture Department, the number of U.S. organic operations has more than tripled since then; the number grew 5 percent just last year.
The Organic Trade Association estimated in a report released Wednesday that organics now make up almost 5 percent of total food sales in the United States, with sales for all organic products totaling more than $39 billion last year.
As the industry has grown, giants like General Mills and Kellogg have entered the organic game and many small organic food companies have become large businesses. Laura Batcha, head of the trade association, says that growth has helped the industry move beyond a niche market.
“The only way to create change is for there to be widespread adoption,” Batcha said.
Organic foods generally are grown with fewer chemicals and artificial ingredients and are produced according to a strict set of government standards. A food cannot be labeled organic unless its production adheres to those rules, and those extra steps mean higher prices at the grocery store.
Much of organics’ growth is in nonfood items like textiles and personal care items. The Organic Trade Association says those nonfood sales jumped almost 14 percent last year and totaled more than $3 billion.