Consumers are concerned about what they eat and what they feed their children, but household budgets don’t always allow for paying a premium – whether it’s on branded or organic foods. After several difficult years during the recession, more consumers are paying extra to buy organic. In total, the industry is now valued at more than $28.6 billion.
The Organic Trade Association finds that 41% of families are buying more organic foods these days. Overall, 73% of families purchased some type of organic food in 2011 which was an increase from the previous 2 years. In addition, 19% of shoppers say they always buy organic. This statistic has been unchanged for several years.
Marketers are hopeful that sales will continue to rise as more organic products are rolled out to stores. During the recession, sales dropped in many categories but consumers consistently purchased produce and dairy with organic labels. Recent new product introductions have included organic clementines and mandarins. About 39.7% of organic food sales are attributed to fruits and vegetables. Another strong category, dairy, accounts for nearly 14% of industry sales. Or, looked at another way, about 6% of the U.S. market for dairy products goes to organics.
Industry experts note that the price differences between organic and traditional produce have been narrower since the recession started. While this change in market economics may pressure producers, they still see a strong outlook. Of the 14,540 organic farms and ranches operating in the U.S., 78% say they will maintain or increase their output in the next 5 years.[Sources: Offner, Jim. Rising retail sales for organics fuels optimism. The Packer.com. 6 Jan. 2012. Web. 18 Jan. 2012; U.S. Organic Industry Overview. OTA.com. 2011. Web. 18 Jan. 2012]