Global organic market grows during economic downturn

Survey finds U.S. sales of food and beverages totaled $28 billion in 2011, accounting for 4% of total sales. Worldwide, market grew by 25% between 2008 and 2011, to $63 billion.

Capital Press

Published on September 4, 2013 10:39AM

Sales of organic foods grew by 25 percent between 2008 and 2011, a period of economic downturn in much of the world.

Focusing on global trends, the Soil Association, a nonprofit sustainable agriculture advocacy group based in the United Kingdom, reported on data collected by two international groups, the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.

Worldwide sales of organic food and drink totaled $63 billion in 2011, the latest year recorded, and was dominated by the U.S., at $28 billion. Europe and the U.S. accounted for 90 percent of global sales.

Other findings:

• Organic farming is practiced in 162 countries on 92 million acres, which represents less than 1 percent of ag land surveyed. Adding in organic wild areas and non-agricultural land brings the total to 172 million acres.

• The Asian market has seen steady growth, especially in the affluent countries of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. Most organic produce is imported from Australasia, Europe and the U.S.

• The U.S. market is dominated by large companies throughout the supply chain, contrasted with Africa, which has small-scale farming — a half-million producers on 2.7 million acres — and exports nearly all its produce to the EU.

• In the U.S., organic products account for 4 percent of all food and drink sales.

• Europe is the largest consumer of organic foods, with sales growing by 9 percent in 2011 to reach $28.6 billion.

• Argentina, the U.S. and Australia have the most acres of organic farmland. The highest percentages of land in organic are the Falkland Islands (35.9 percent), Liechtenstein (27.3 percent) and Austria (19.7 percent).

• Latin America has 20.7 million acres in organic farmland, and both exports and domestic markets are growing, led by Brazil.

One major U.S. producer, Pacific Foods in Tualatin, Ore., reports double-digit annual growth for the past 15 years.

Spokeswoman Samantha Burton said she could not release sales figures, but the company has expanded both production and warehouse space in recent years. From more than 2,000 acres of organic land in the Willamette Valley and Eastern Oregon, Pacific Foods produces soups, sauces, meals and beverages to meet a wide variety of special dietary needs.

“We do export our products, with the largest being Canada,” she said, “but most of our business is in the U.S.”


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