Importance of organic continues to rise in the USA. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic this year has already had dramatic consequences for the organic sector in 2020. As shoppers search for healthy, clean food to feed their at-home families, organic food is proving to be the food of choice for home, according to Organic Trade Association.

The Organic 3.0 message of organic as a mainstream solution has reached policy makers at least at the global level

Many solid-growth organic categories have seen demand exploding. Organic produce sales for one, after jumping by more than 50 percent in the early days of kitchen stocking, were up more than 20 percent in the spring of 2020. Other categories experiencing softer growth have been seeing big boosts in demand: the run on groceries meant organic milk was in high demand, for example, and sales of organic eggs skyrocketed. Packaged and frozen organic foods saw double-digit growth as consumers upped at-home meal preparation.

Today’s interest in organic may be intensified, but organic’s growing popularity isn’t new. Consumers are eating more organic food and using more organic products than ever before, according to the 2020 Organic Industry Survey released Tuesday by the Organic Trade Association. The U.S. organic sector posted a banner year in 2019, with organic sales in the food and non-food markets totaling a record $55.1 billion, up a solid 5 percent from the previous year.

Both the food and non-food markets shattered major benchmarks. Organic food sales hit $50.1 billion, up 4.6 percent. Organic non-food sales totaled just over $5 billion, up a strong 9.2 percent. Both sectors easily outpaced the general market growth rate of around 2 percent for total food sales and of just 3 percent for total non-food sales.

“Our 2020 survey looks at organic sales in 2019 before the coronavirus outbreak, and it shows that consumers were increasingly seeking out the Organic label to feed their families the healthiest food possible. The pandemic has only increased our desire for clean, healthy food,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association. “Our normal lives have been brought to a screeching halt by the coronavirus. The commitment to the Organic label has always resided at the intersection of health and safety, and we expect that commitment to strengthen as we all get through these unsettled times.”

The pandemic has only increased our desire for clean, healthy food

In the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Organic Trade Association undertook a multi-pronged effort to look not only at shifting patterns in organic shopping since the crisis began, but to gather intelligence on the overall retail landscape for organic, and on the organic supply chain: where the supply chain is holding together and where it is being challenged. The association worked with Mercaris Data Service and Category Partners strategic insights company to put together the latest insights and outlooks for the organic sector.

Prior to 2020, the organic market has been growing steadily year over year. The U.S. economy has been battered by the pandemic, and experts say there are a few ways that could play out for organic. Because people are price sensitive, there could be a slowdown in the growth of organic sales. Or, because people are increasingly aware of their health and looking for cleaner products, they may be willing to invest in premium products.

Influenced by COVID, all of the staples categories, from dairy and eggs, to breads, pastas, rice and grains and baking supplies, such as flour and baking yeast, are expected to see increased growth in 2020, provided supply can meet demand. In the non-food organic market, organic vitamins and immunity-related products are expected to see strong growth, as are organic supplements and household products.

“It’s hard to know what’s ahead of us, but consumers will continue to trust in and depend on the Organic label,” said the Organic Trade Association’s Batcha. “Organic producers and processors – indeed the entire organic supply chain – have been working around the clock through this difficult time to keep our stores filled with healthy, toxic-free and sustainably produced organic food and products. Organic is going to be there for the consumer.”

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