The U.S. organic food market size was valued at $43.7 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $70.4 billion by 2025 as a result of increasing demand from consumers. This is the prediction made in a June 2018 study published by Hexa Research. A more recent sales estimate by the Organic Trade Industry pins 2018 organic sales at $52.5 billion which represented 5.5% of all food sold at retail in the country. However about 14% of all fruit and vegetable sales in the U.S. are categorized as organic.
The truth is that it can be hard to pin down the exact market size because it’s not always easy to identify whether a food product sold is actually organic. There’s a big difference between a certified organic food product and natural food products. It’s important to note that that even though sales of organic foods are on the rise, U.S. production of organic foods remains somewhat stagnant as less than 2% of American farmland is certified organic. Fruits and vegetables account for the largest category of organic foods sold but the majority of organic produce is imported.
In the U.S. only foods that meet USDA organic standards qualify as “USDA-certified organic” and this mark is earned only when the following conditions are met:
- The product bears the official USDA organic seal.
- The product has been certified organic.
- The product contains 95 percent or more organic ingredients.
It’s quite expensive to obtain organic certification and some smaller farms can’t afford the certification even though they may produce organic crops. So it’s possible to purchase a food product that is in fact grown organically but which comes from a farm that is not certified as organic. What’s most important to remember is that certified organic food products come from USDA certified organic suppliers. The USDA maintains a database of certified organic farm or business called the Organic Integrity Database.
The organic food category seems to be growing but the exact market size, both now and in the future, will depend on a variety of factors including consumer preferences. As the market matures we expect consumers to become more educated on what an organic product actually is and some of the myths and facts about the organic category. Whether or not younger consumers will be willing to pay a premium for organic foods will determine the overall size of the U.S. organic food market.
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