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Consumer Demand Bolstering Organic Production and Markets in the U.S.

Organic food sales in the United States have shown double-digit growth during most years since the 1990s, and this trend shows no sign of slowing.  The Nutrition Business Journal reports annual growth in the nation’s organic food sales has generally exceeded 10 percent since the downturn in the American economy in 2008.  U.S. organic food sales approached an estimated $37 billion in 2015, up 12 percent from the previous year.  The country’s top food retailers, including Costco, Kroger, Walmart and Target, have expanded their organic food offerings in recent years, and have announced initiatives which could further boost demand.

Although organic sales have been increasing from a small base, the Organic Trade Association estimates that U.S. organic food purchases accounted for nearly 5 percent of the total food market in 2014.  In addition, U.S. sales of organic personal care products, linens, and other nonfood items were in excess of an estimated $3 billion in 2014.  Certified organic farmland has also expanded, while not as fast as organic sales.

New Handbook Highlights Resources for Conservation on Organic Farms

Consumer demand for organic products continues to grow. The Organic Trade Association that represents more than 8,500 organic businesses across 50 states reports that demand for organic products exceeded $39 billion in 2014. To meet that demand, more farmers and ranchers are pursuing organic certification and seeking assistance through USDA programs.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is making sure that its people in the field are prepared to work with organic producers and those who want to get into organics. The agency has just released to staff its new Organic Farming Handbook describing things they need to know when working with organic producers.

Organic on the World Stage: Expo Milan 2015

Across the country and around the world, more people are looking for organic options at their local markets.  Thanks to the remarkable growth in the number of USDA certified organic operations, which now number more than 27,800 worldwide, consumers have more choices than ever.  My agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), includes the National Organic Program, which plays a critical role in advancing the organic sector by developing clear standards for use of the USDA Organic seal, enforcing a level playing field, and expanding trade opportunities to create new markets for U.S. organic businesses.

Just last week, I had the privilege of highlighting the success of American organic agriculture on the world stage at the Expo Milan 2015 USA Pavilion, where the theme was “American Food 2.0:  United to Feed the Planet.”  During the “Women leading the Organic Way” panel discussion, I shared USDA’s vision for organic agriculture and all the ways in which USDA is supporting organic farmers and businesses.  I also emphasized the important role of women in agriculture – women farm 301.4 million acres in the U.S., and a relatively high proportion of organic farms are operated by women.