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Organic Sales Hit New Heights During Pandemic

by Jane Sooby |

The Organic Trade Association’s 2021 Organic Industry Survey reports that sales of organic products—including food and nonfood categories—grew by 12.4 percent in 2020 to total $61.9 billion in sales nationwide.

Citing market shifts that accompanied the closure of restaurants and food services due to the pandemic, OTA reported that online and grocery sales of fresh produce and staple foods—many of them completely selling out at times—drove organic food sales to a new high of $56.5 billion. OTA explains, “The primary reason organic purchases skyrocketed was because people have come to associate organic with health. And in the time of a pandemic, they looked to organic food as medicine.”

The top selling food category was organic fruits and vegetables, growing by almost 11 percent in 2020 to $20.4 billion in sales and now composing 15 percent of all fruits and vegetables sold in the United States. Other sectors that demonstrated record growth in 2020 included organic dairy and eggs, packaged and prepared foods, breads and grains, condiments, meat, poultry, and fish.

Top sales in the organic nonfood category included fiber (linens and clothing), supplements, and personal care products.

The report details that the top marketing outlets for organic products were mass-market grocery stores (36 percent of sales), national natural grocery chains (18 percent of sales), and club/warehouse stores (13.5 percent of sales).

The OTA report highlights the crucial role played by essential workers, from doctors and nurses to grocery store clerks and farmworkers, during the pandemic year. Labor shortages affected the produce, dairy, meat, and poultry sectors and highlighted the need for immigration reform to ensure a strong agricultural workforce.

Read OTA’s press release on the new organic industry survey.