The organic industry grew at a rate of nearly 8 percent in 2010, bucking the current trend whereby “flat is the new growth” for many other segments of the economy. Further, some sectors of the organic market enjoyed annual growth of well over 30 percent, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) revealed in releasing findings from its 2011 Organic Industry Survey. In 2010, the organic industry grew to over $28.6 billion.
“While total U.S. food sales grew by less than one percent in 2010, the organic food industry grew by 7.7 percent,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s CEO and executive director. “Consumers continue to vote with their dollars in favor of the organic choice. These results illustrate the positive contribution organic agriculture and trade make to our economy, and particularly to rural livelihoods,” Bushway said.
She added, “The good news is that even as the economic recovery crawls forward, the organic industry is thriving – and hiring.” In 2010, 40 percent of surveyed organic companies reported positive full-time employment growth. Companies with fewer than five employees were least likely to add full-time employees (23 percent). About half of companies with more than 50 employees experienced positive full-time employment growth. What’s more, in 2011, 46 percent of respondents anticipate an increase in employment over 2010 levels. In addition, 50 percent expect employment to remain even, and only 5 percent foresee a decrease.
Experiencing the most growth, organic fruits and vegetables, which represent 39.7 percent of total organic food value, and nearly 12 percent of all U.S. fruit and vegetable sales, reached nearly $10.6 billion in 2010, up 11.8 percent from 2009 performance. Organic dairy, the second-largest category, experienced 9 percent growth to achieve a value of $3.9 billion, and captured nearly 6 percent of the total U.S. market for dairy products.
In the organic non-food sector, organic supplements led, with a value of $681 million, representing 7.4 percent growth over 2009 figures. Organic fiber (linen and clothing) totaled a value of $605 million, achieving 16 percent year-over-year growth. Personal care products, at $490 million, increased 6.6 percent from 2009.