Organic Food Expanding Eight Times Faster Than Conventional

Source: Steve Meyerowitz aka Sproutman,

The organic food market is growing at an impressive rate. Organic sales have doubled since 1997 and increased 17 to 21 percent per year compared to increases of 2 to 4 percent for the entire food industry. The demand for fresh and naturally grown food is reflected in the ever-increasing shelf space devoted to organic products at large supermarket chains. At a June 28, 2005 conference, the International Food and Agribusiness Association reported that global sales of organic and natural products are forecasted to reach $100 billion by 2008. At this growth rate, demand for organic products is expected to outstrip supply.

Consumers have also shown that they are willing to pay a premium for organic products. Whole Foods Market, the Texas–based supermarket chain that focuses entirely on natural and organic foods, appeals to its customers’ desire to purchase healthy, natural products in an attractive setting. It reported a 27% increase in operating profits over last year, and it plans to open 12 new stores next year. Even traditional food manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon. Gene Kahn, vice president of General Mills, which owns organic brands such as Cascadian Farms and Muir Glen, says “The genetically modified foods debate has also driven many customers to organic food shops.” Many consumers simply want to support farmers who practice more sustainable, earth-friendly types of agriculture. These are considered to be LOHAS consumers, who support a Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability. LOHAS cites that approximately 30 percent of the adults in the U.S., or 63 million people, are currently considered to be LOHAS consumers.

Some forecasts predict that the U.S. organic industry, currently at 11 billion, will climb as high as $32 billion by 2009. But despite this rapid growth, organic-food markets make up only about three percent of the total retail food trade in the country. Most Americans are still choosing to buy foods produced by the nation’s $550 billion conventional food industry perhaps largely because such foods are more widely available and are generally more affordable.

Steve is a health crusader and author on ten books, including The Organic Food Guide. He has been featured on PBS, the Home Shopping network, QVC and TV Food Network. He has written for Better Nutrition, Prevention, Organic Gardening and House & Garden magazines.