Organic sales surpassed $31 billion in 2011, survey finds

WASHINGTON — The U.S. organic industry grew by nearly 10% to $31.5 billion in 2011, according to the Organic Trade Association's 2012 organic industry survey.

The OTA found that the easing of the recession, consumer price inflation due to input price increases and consumers' increasing desire for convenience products were all factors that elevated growth for the year.

Overall organic product sales saw growth of 9.5%, which continued to outpace total sales of comparable conventionally produced food and nonfood items, which experienced 4.7% growth. Breaking down the total market capture, the organic food and beverage sector was valued at $29.22 billion, while the organic nonfood sector reached $2.2 billion. Additionally, organic food sales experienced 9.4% growth in 2011 and now represent 4.2% of all U.S. food sales, up from 4% in 2010.

Looking ahead, organic food and nonfood sales will continue to sustain growth levels of 9% or higher, OTA said.

"Consumers are increasingly engaged and discerning when they shop, making decisions based on their values and awareness about health and environmental concerns," OTA executive director and CEO Christine Bushway said. "For them, it matters whether foods are genetically engineered, or produced using practices that are good for their families. Price is still an issue, but with the wide availability of private label products and many venues for organic products, they have many choices for where to shop and a variety of products from which to choose."

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