The expansion of consumer interest in naturally grown foods has opened doors to new and better organic market opportunities for manufacturers. It is quickly moving in the direction of huge modifications around the industry of organic foods.
In the last two decades, or so of organic agriculture in the U.S., organic farming has been one of its most rapidly expanding phases. Following that, every producer, manufacturer, distributor, and retailer is now prioritizing the development, transformation, and marketing of organic food products since consumers’ needs seem to be on a constant hike.
Maybe organic food was a niche product before—retailed in a limited way, to some extent—but times have changed now, and organic food is available in a large variety of spaces: farmer markets, conventional/natural products supermarkets, and club stores.
The astounding growth of the organic market brought the government’s attention upon itself. It encouraged it to stamp the industry with new Federal policies that would advance organic product marketing and spur on the research and education regarding the same.
To learn the insides of the organic market, you must know about its size, players on top of the food chain, areas where there has been a major development, leading trends, consumer buying habits, and why it’s the most severely monitored market out of all.
The organic food industry in the U.S. experienced a new beginning in 2020, with organic products being available in around 20,000 natural foods stores and their sales accounting for approximately 4 percent of total food sales in the U.S. (You’ll see a logo or a sign of sorts on the product to identify it as organic). The requirement of organic food keeps evolving blindingly fast and shows double-digit growth on the regular.
If supply in 2020 — the only sector that was strained when we talked about the year’s growth — could have been caught up with, the numbers would have probably touched the sky. Even packaging material, transport facilities, and labor fell short of supply back then, and producers in the organic market worldwide were faced with the challenge to mount their processing to an extent where they could stay on level with consumer demand.
Approximately 1.6 percent of fresh produce in the U.S. marketplace is through direct sales. From 1994 to 2013, the number of farmers’ markets has gone up from around 1755 to over 8144.
It’s fruits and vegetables of fresh quality that are being sold the most when it comes to organic food items since the beginning of retail in the organic market (for the last 30 years or so), and some fruits and vegetables where the label of organic matters the most include: apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, peaches hot peppers, grapes, potatoes, and spinach.
The list looks like this:
- Produce counts for 43 percent of the total organic sales in the U.S. (fruits, vegetables),
- followed by 11 percent being the sale of drinks (milk, juice),
- grains being 9 percent (rice, pulses),
- snacks 5 percent (sun-flower seeds, plain oatmeal),
- meat 3 percent (counted along with fish as well as poultry),
- and lastly, condiments totaling up to about 3 percent.
(Poultry and meat lag behind a little in the organic market because they weren’t labeled as organic the years before 1999.)
Where can you shop for organic food?
Processed Organic Foods
Organic processed food in the organic market requires manufacturers to recruit more farmers and convert from conventional to organic production and find ways to get the said food transported to the supermarket and shelved.
Processed Food Has Two Marketing Channels
- The raw commodity is first produced by farmers and then transported to the manufacturer (to be converted into a processed organic product right upon receiving).
- Where the transporter (or the middleman) gets raw products first from farmers and gets them delivered to the manufacturer.
In both cases, it’s the distributor/middleman’s work to move the processed organic products from the manufacturer to the retailer’s shop, secure the needed quantities, and ensure that the said commodity is high quality.
Although there was also stable growth in the non-food business, the category did not manage to see itself at a level with organic food around that time. Vastly motivated by the demand for sanitizers and other basic cleaning products, organic sales (mostly talking about household products) grew by 20 percent.
Organic agriculture is a structure that relies on the environment instead of other external sources.
Divided into three types:
- Consumer-driven; where products are identified through certification by the consumer,
- Service-driven; where biologically diverse subsidies are provided,
- Farmer-driven; where alternative methods of business and production are looked into.
Conventional vs. Organic Farming
Conventional farming has proved to be highly productive but is awful for the environment. On the other hand, organic farming is free from the point above and a better way of food production because there’s no use of pesticides, automatically stamping it as friendly for the environment.
Organic agriculture assures complete sustainability over the long term, keeps the soil healthy through practices like crop rotation and inter-cropping over time, emits the possibility of groundwater pollution since there’s no contact of pesticides and other synesthetic products with it, reduces the negative sides that add to air and climate change by taking away the extra usage of non-renewable energy. The food, as a result, comes out fresher, organically produced meat and milk are richer in nutrients, and organically raised animals are not given growth hormones or antibiotics.
Although we take greenhouse gas emissions and the extra land required into account, organic agriculture has its select few downsides.
Since it’s estimated that due to the rise in population around 30 years into the future, the need for food is supposed to go from 59 to 98 percent, it’s going to be a tough mission to not only feed the said population but also doing it in a way that doesn’t mess with the climate and adapts to it instead.
Organic Trade Association
The Organic Trade Association, a team committed to giving information and updates about the organic market in the U.S., found that the COVID-19 pandemic was a huge reason behind the instantaneous shift in consumer dollars. When it came to groceries, online deliveries basically flew apart, and fresh things were being tried as families began to eat at home for all three of their meals.
“The pandemic caused abrupt changes in all of our lives. 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.”
– Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of OTA.
The community also conducted another research and provided a report about how the sale of most organic products occurs through natural food supermarkets. The rest goes out through farmers’ markets and other business channels.
They can be contacted via several sources that you can reach from here, and access the website operated by them directly from this URL: http://www.ota.com.
The Food and Drug Administration takes note of the facts regarding whether or not public health is safe and secure from a specific product. It gives out continuous information about the subject. Their duty is to report whether or not products that emit radiation are safe for the human population and free from other harms. They also report how to bring advancement in public health, ensure constant innovation in medical products, and serve the public by keeping an eye on manufacturing, marketing, and distributing products that need to be used less by minors.
You can contact various FDA centers and Offices via email.
A lot of research about the organic market is still being conducted throughout the country (funded by USDA), that differs from location to location to protect, develop and provide information on the organic market by California, Washington, Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and other locations to quell concerns like:
- put a stop to plant diseases,
- develop a post-harvest treatment for fruit,
- enhance weed control in farms for vegetables,
- investigate and provide information on organic methods to control animal parasites,
- devise reduced tillage organic systems,
- assist adoption of organic practices,
- explore new farming methods,
- manage and save the organic market from risks,
- promote organic exports,
- develop the international market.
Organic products that were once a lifestyle choice for a limited number of consumers who went for organically produced food are now consumed occasionally by a proud majority of the world since (especially after the pandemic) consumers are slowly moving towards organic products due to their growing concerns regarding health, the environment, as well as animal protection since organic products are free from these issues.
That brings us to the point that ‘organic food’ isn’t always checked properly. A constant debate has been found between the U.S. experts of sustainability whether fruits, vegetables, and other items are genuinely ‘certified organic’ or not to this day. It’s a bit more complicated than that, though we can agree that there’s always a blurry line between good and bad. The involvement of bigger corporations and their nose in the business takes away the term’s true meaning. To add to that, there are also slightly higher costs that go into producing hundred percent organic food because the certification can be expensive.
If you hold the passion for giving mother nature your share of protection and can afford to pay slightly higher prices, try to go for pork/eggs/chicken with a ‘certified organic’ label and ‘pasture raised’ or ‘100 percent grass fed’ for beef and dairy products. There are also other ways to buy organic products at prices that are within your budget, like buying in season, joining a food co-op (lower prices to members who pay an annual fee to belong), and shopping at a farmers’ market.
But always keep in mind: Just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s healthy!
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