Organic food sales hit record high in 2020

WASHINGTON — Organic food sales in the United States increased by a record 12.8% in 2020 to a new high of $56.4 billion, according to the Organic Trade Association. Almost 6% of the food sold in the United States last year was certified organic, reflecting strong, pandemic-driven demand across nearly every organic food aisle.

“The pandemic caused abrupt changes in all of our lives,” said Laura Batcha, chief executive officer and executive director of the Organic Trade Association. “We’ve been eating at home with our families and often cooking three meals a day. Good, healthy food has never been more important, and consumers have increasingly sought out the organic label. Organic purchases have skyrocketed as shoppers choose high-quality organic to feed and nourish their families.”

Fresh organic produce sales grew almost 11% in 2020 to $18.2 million. Frozen organic fruits and vegetables increased more than 28%. Including frozen, canned and dried, total sales of organic fruit and vegetable products hit $20.4 billion. More than 15% of fruits and vegetables sold in the United States are organic.

As consumers stocked pantries and embraced home cooking and baking last year, sales of organic flour and baked foods grew by 30%, and sales of organic spices surged 51%, more than triple the growth rate tracked in 2019. Organic meat, poultry and fish sales grew 25% to $1.7 billion.

The dynamic growth led to supply constraints, stunting growth across all organic categories, as well as packaging, said Angela Jagiello, director of education and insights.

Sales of organic non-food products, such as textiles, fibers and household goods, grew 8.5% to $5.4 billion, contributing to overall US organic sales in 2020 of $61.9 billion, up 12.4% over the prior year and marking the first time the figure has surpassed $60 billion.

The rate of growth for organic food sales will not continue at the same torrid pace but is expected to remain strong in the year ahead driven by lasting consumer behaviors such as continued increased home cooking.

“We’ve seen a great many changes during the pandemic, and some of them are here to stay,” Ms. Batcha said. “What’s come out of COVID is a renewed awareness of the importance of maintaining our health, and the important role of nutritious food. For more and more consumers, that means organic. We’ll be eating in restaurants again, but many of us will also be eating and cooking more at home. We’ll see more organic everywhere — in the stores and on our plates.”

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