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Organic Foods Gain Market Share

posted on August 24, 2007

In addition to row crops, organic foods also were devastated by the floods -- especially in Wisconsin -- where experts say the damage could put some growers out of business.

Only California has more certified organic farms than Wisconsin, and more than a third of the Badger State's 994 organic operations are in the five counties where rivers and streams overflowed.

Organic farms in southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa also were affected by the deluge. And while that may be a factor in retail prices of organically produced foods in the days ahead, one thing is certain -- organic foods are gaining in popularity.

Organic Foods Gain Market Share

Organic product sales continue to grow exponentially in the United States. In its latest assessment, the Organic Trade Association reports the industry now enjoys about $15 billion dollars in annual sales. And the Agriculture Department says over the past decade, the industry has increased its sales figures about 17% every year.

Carolyn Dimitri, USDA Economic Research Service: "I think consumers want to buy organic foods. There's a growing demand for foods that have something other than typical eating characteristics. People are interested in the environmental aspect and they perceive it as being better for the earth."

Fruits and vegetables continue to dominate U.S. organic sales, but meats and dairy products also are gaining market share. Overall, demand is outpacing supply for organic foods and that could lead to more imports.

Carolyn Dimitri, USDA Economic Research Service: "Something can have that USDA Organic label regardless of where it's grown as long as it meets the production standards."

While independent natural food operations or, so called, "health food" stores laid the foundation for the industry's expansion, organic foods -- increasingly -- are found in more mainstream retail establishments. And experts expect the industry to continue growing rapidly.

Carolyn Dimitri, USDA Economic Research Service: "I would actually still consider organic food a niche market, in the sense that it makes up about three percent of total food sales. But it really is very widely available.

Tags: agriculture crops food markets news organic