U.S. sales of organic food and non-food products reached $24.6 billion in 2008, growing 17.1 percent over 2007 sales, despite tough economic times, according to a new study by the Organic Trade Association (OTA).
The 2009 Organic Industry Survey, conducted by Lieberman Research Group on behalf of OTA, measured the growth of U.S. sales of organic foods and beverages, and non-food products such as organic fibers, personal care products and pet foods in 2008.
Key findings show that organic food sales grew in 2008 by 15.8 percent to reach $22.9 billion, while organic non-food sales grew by 39.4 percent to reach $1.648 billion. These growth rates indicate that organic sales are growing faster than the rate of growth for conventional food products. Although still a small percentage of all food sales, organic sales account for approximately 3.5 percent of all food product sales in the United States, according to the study.
This is in contrast to two earlier studies. Market research firm NPD Group reported that the number of people buying organic products fell 4 percent in August 2008, compared with 2007. A survey conducted by Information Resources in late 2008 revealed that nearly half of respondents said they were purchasing fewer organic products because they were too expensive.
The OTA study also finds that the fruit and vegetable category accounts for the largest portion of organic food sales, representing 37 percent of total organic food sales in 2008. The second largest categories are beverage and dairy, representing just over 14 percent each. The strongest growth in 2008 is in the categories of breads and grains (35 percent over 2007) and beverages (40 percent).
The full report is available for purchase.