Organic Survey Shows Steady Sales Growth, Stabilizing Purchasing Patterns

Market volatility and pantry loading subsiding, industry growth shifting back toward historic trends, according to Organic Trade Association.

Washington DC (June 2, 2022)—Following an unprecedented year marked by pantry loading and supply shortages, the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) latest Organic Industry Survey shows consumers returned to more stable, buy-as-you-need shopping patterns in 2021. Between 2020 and 2021, organic sales surpassed $63 billion, with $1.4 billion (2 percent) total growth over the year. Food sales, which comprise over 90 percent of organic sales, rose to $57.5 billion (roughly 2 percent growth), and non-food sales reached $6 billion in sales (7 percent growth).

“Like every other industry, organic has been through many twists and turns over the last few years, but the industry’s resilience and creativity has kept us going strong,” says OTA CEO and Executive Director Tom Chapman, “In 2020, organic significantly increased its market foothold as Americans took a closer look at the products in their home and gravitated toward healthier choices. When pandemic purchasing habits and supply shortages began to ease in 2021, we saw the strongest performance from categories that were able to remain flexible, despite the shifting landscape. That ability to adapt and stay responsive to consumer and producer needs is a key part of organic’s continued growth and success.”

Fruits and Vegetables

Organic fruits and vegetables accounted for 15 percent of the total product market and brought in over $21 billion in revenue in 2021; an approximately 4.5 percent increase over 2020. Fresh produce and dried beans, fruits, and vegetables drove growth in the category, showing 6 and 6.5 percent growth over the year, respectively. Frozen and canned foods declined slightly as consumers reduced pantry loading.

Dairy, Eggs, and Meat

As any American will remember, staples like milk and eggs were among the first things to vanish off the shelves at the beginning of the pandemic. After hitting the highest growth rate in over a decade in 2020, the organic dairy and egg category unsurprisingly leveled off in 2021 as supply scares became less frequent. A tight market for organic feed and challenging international supply chains contributed to higher prices and lower total sales. Although organic dairy and eggs sales remained relatively flat through 2021, the category still outperformed 2019 sales by nearly 11 percent.

Despite unique supply chain constraints and the strict rules for raising organic poultry, livestock, and seafood, organic meat sales increased in 2021 by 2.5 percent, representing nearly $2 billion in annual sales. Organic poultry was the strongest performer in this category, with 4.7 percent growth and over $1 billion in sales.

Organic dairy, eggs, and meat are likely to be further bolstered by the recently finalized Origin of Livestock (OOL) rule and the pending Organic Livestock Poultry Standards (OLPS) proposed rule. The rule clarifies the standards for transitioning dairy livestock to organic milk production and aims to level the playing field for all organic dairy producers. Organic livestock and poultry producers are also eagerly awaiting the OLPS rule, which would update animal welfare regulations—particularly for organic egg laying chickens—to bring all organic production more in-line with consumer expectations and best practices.

Packaged and Prepared Foods, Snacks

Packaged and prepared organic foods experienced an overall decline of around 5 percent in 2021, representing a shift away from pantry loading and toward more measured purchasing patterns. The sub-categories that saw the most significant growth spikes in 2020—canned soups, nut butters, and pasta sauces—consequently saw the largest decreases in 2021. Organic baby food, which saw over 11 percent growth ($1.2 billion in sales) was the biggest bright spot in the packaged and prepared category in 2021. Baby food has traditionally been a strong point of entry for shoppers new to organic.

Snacks, the only organic category to contract in 2020, saw healthy growth of six percent ($3.3 billion in sales). With offices, gyms, schools, and many other destinations reopening, Americans were increasingly looking for healthy, organic foods on the go. Nutrition bars made the most headway in this category, with nearly 15 percent growth and over $1 billion in sales.


Organic beverages experienced strong growth (8 percent, the highest of all major categories) over 2021 thanks to the category’s ability to remain nimble and adjust quickly to shifting consumer needs and habits. As Americans increasingly transitioned into hybrid and work-from-home models, at-home coffee sales received a significant boost. Organic coffee topped the beverage performance chart with more than 5 percent growth and over $2 billion in annual sales.

Breads and Grains

Organic bread and grains sales tapered off slightly in 2021 as the pandemic baking boom subsided, but sales were still strong at $6.2 billion overall. Frozen and fresh breads, the largest subcategory, saw a modest increase of 1.6 percent. Baking ingredients, pastas, rice, and other dry grains saw overall declines. This category may continue to struggle as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and other serious domestic and international issues constrain supply chains.

Non-Food Products

In this category, fiber, supplements, and personal care products have been the most dominant performers; each saw growth rates of between 5.5–8.5 percent in 2021. Textiles, the largest non-food sub-category, represented 40 percent of the category’s total sales and brought in $2.3 billion in annual sales. Overall, non-food products saw six percent growth in 2021 and represented nearly $6 billion in sales.

“Organic’s ability to retain the market footholds gained during 2020 and continue to grow despite unprecedented challenges and uncertainty is a testament to the strength of our industry and our products,” says Chapman. “To keep organic strong, the industry will need to continue developing innovative solutions to supply chain weaknesses and prioritizing efforts to engage and educate organic shoppers and businesses.”


For more information about the Organic Trade Association, visit:

Organic Corner

Photo by DivvyPixel from Pixabay.

By Michelle Menken, Organic Services Manager

All crop and livestock applications are now due. Applications that we receive in June are late and a $100 late fee will be charged. The late fee will increase to $200 on July 1, so please get your applications in now. If we do not receive your application by July 1, we will start suspension proceedings. If you do not plan to apply, please contact the office and let us know. You will have to surrender your certification or we will have to suspend you for not reapplying.

We have been busy this past month reviewing files and getting them out to inspectors. Inspection season for crops and livestock has started. If you have an inspection date scheduled, please try to keep it. However, Covid is still around, so if you are sick, please contact the inspector to reschedule. We usually send at least two files to the inspector so they can do more than one inspection in a day and save on travel and mileage costs. If you cancel, the inspector will have to reschedule, and you may have to bear the entire cost of the trip.

We send out Initial Review Letters when we get your applications. Please review your letter to check if we need additional information. Some of the information may be needed before we can send your file to an inspector.

Organic Certification Specialist/Inspector Karen Gjelhaug is leaving us at the end of June to attend business school. We wish her well! We have hired Maddie Barkholtz, a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s animal science program, to fill the position. Maddie is also pursuing a master’s degree in public health with a focus on regenerative agriculture. She will be working in MCIA’s St. Paul office. In addition, MCIA’s new District 3 field supervisor, Keith Marti, will be taking the basic organic crop inspector training. Maddie and Keith may be visiting your farms with a trained inspector.

HEADS UP: The Origin of Livestock rule will be effective April 5, 2023. This means organic dairy animals that were transitioned will not be able to be sold as organic animals for slaughter or to another dairy farm after that date.

USDA Publishes Origin of Livestock Final Rule for Organic Dairy

On Tuesday, April 5, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published the highly anticipated Origin of Livestock (OOL) final rule for organic dairy in the Federal Register. This change to the USDA organic regulations is intended to promote a fairer and more competitive market for organic diary producers by ensuring that certified USDA organic dairy products are produced to a consistent standard.

USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) will oversee the new rule, which in general:

  • Allows a dairy livestock operation transitioning to organic, or starting a new organic farm, to transition non-organic animals one time.
  • Prohibits organic dairies from sourcing any transitioned animals. Once a dairy is certified organic, animals must be managed as organic from the last third of gestation. Variances may be requested by small businesses for specific scenarios.

This final rule is effective June 6, 2022. Certified organic operations must comply with all provisions of this final rule by April 5, 2023.

See the infographic, below, for a summary of the Origin of Livestock final rule. To view the text of the rule, visit:

OOL Final Rule Infographic

Informational Webinar

On Wednesday, April 20, 2022, from 1:00pm-1:30pm Eastern, NOP will hold an informational webinar to provide an overview of the changes this rule makes to the USDA organic regulations and how they may impact organic farms and businesses.

Webinar details:


MCIA is a USDA NOP-accredited Accredited Certifying Agent that provides organic certification services to operations in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. For more information about MCIA Organic Services, please visit: