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U.S. positioned to succeed in organic food, fiber

Organic products topped $67 billion in sales in 2023, report says.

Todd Fitchette, Associate Editor

May 24, 2024

2 Min Read
Organic zone
A sign designates an organic zone.Todd Fitchette

In an age of ever-increasing food prices, the organic food sector is boasting resilience, according to the Organic Trade Association.

A report released in May says the sale of organic food and non-food products surpassed $67 billion in 2023. Of that, just over $60 billion of that was directly related to food products.

Produce sales topped all organic categories, at about $22 billion in sales. This is seen as an important gateway for new organic buyers, who may be more health conscience and willing to pay the added mark-up for certified organic products. It makes sense as in many grocery stores I’ve shopped in, the size of and attention to organic fruits and vegetables continues to grow.

An additional $9 billion was spent on organic beverages, a 4% increase from the previous year. Coffee remains the largest segment of the organic beverage market, with almost $2.3 billion in sales in 2023, a 7% increase from the year before.

“Organic has proven it can withstand short-term economic storms,” said Organic Trade Association CEO Tom Chapman in a prepared statement. Despite the fluctuation of any given moment, Americans are still investing in their personal health, and, with increasing interest, in the environment; organic is the answer.”

Dairy and eggs were the third-highest selling organic category, up 7% to $7.9 billion.

Related:A grower’s grower: Organic farms are all natural

Notable sales increases in organic products, year-over-year, include baby food and formula, at about 13%; organic rice, grains, and potato products at over 10%; and pork at over 10%.

In the non-food category, organic fiber continues to be the largest segment at about 40% of sales. This includes cotton, wool, hemp, flax (linen), and other natural fibers grown according to national organic standards, according to OTA.

On the fiber front, the USDA’s National Organic Program sets national standards for agricultural products made from organic fiber, but only sets post-harvest processing standards on food. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) carries this further to address all post-harvest stages of fiber production, including spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing, and manufacturing. Stringent as the international standard is, it remains voluntary, according to OTA.

Key provisions in the GOTS standards include bans on child labor, genetic engineering, heavy metals, and hazardous chemicals such as formaldehyde, while requiring living wages and strict wastewater treatment practices, says an OTA statement.

For food producers, trustworthy and verifiable U.S. organic standards and practices should likewise aid in global marketing efforts with international consumers seeking high-quality, organic products. The same should hold true for conventional products, in my opinion. Nevertheless, the high U.S. standards for food and fiber ought to position us well in the global marketplace, especially on the organic front.

Related:Nevada wants more organic growers

“Organic’s fundamental values remain strong, and consumers have demonstrated they will come back time and again because the organic system is verified, and better for people, the planet, and the economy,” Chapman said in his statement.

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About the Author(s)

Todd Fitchette

Associate Editor, Western Farm Press

Todd Fitchette, associate editor with Western Farm Press, spent much of his journalism career covering agriculture in California and the western United States. Aside from reporting about issues related to farm production, environmental regulations and legislative matters, he has extensive experience covering the dairy industry, western water issues and politics. His journalistic experience includes local daily and weekly newspapers, where he was recognized early in his career as an award-winning news photographer.

Fitchette is US Army veteran and a graduate of California State University, Chico. 

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