Driven by a swing to home cooking during the pandemic, U.S. organic sales soared to new highs in 2020, jumping by a record 12.4 percent to $61.9 billion. It marked the first time that total sales of organic food and non-food products have surpassed $60 billion. This growth rate is more than twice the 2019 pace of 5 percent, according to the 2021 Organic Industry Survey released Tuesday by the Organic Trade Association.
In almost every organic food category, demand jumped by near-record levels, propelling U.S. organic food sales in 2020 up a record 12.8 percent to a new high of $56.4 billion. In 2020, almost 6 percent of the food sold in the United States was certified organic.
The Covid-19 pandemic caused consumer dollars to shift almost overnight from restaurants and carry-out to groceries, with traditional staples and pantry and freezer items flying off the shelves.
Leading the way was fresh organic produce, with sales rising by nearly 11 percent in 2020. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables also jumped with frozen sales alone rising by more than 28 percent. Including frozen, canned, and dried products, total sales of organic fruit and vegetables in 2020 were $20.4 billion. More than 15 percent of the fruits and vegetables sold in this country now are organic.
Pantry stocking was overwhelmingly the main growth driver in 2020. Sales of organic flours and baked goods grew by 30 percent.
Consumers also turned to “meal support” products to help them in the kitchen. Sales of sauces and spices pushed the $2.4 billion condiments category to a growth rate of 31 percent, and organic spice sales jumped by 51 percent, more than triple the growth rate of 15 percent in 2019.
Meat, poultry & fish, the smallest of the organic categories at $1.7 billion, had the second highest growth rate of nearly 25 percent.
While the growth in organic food sales is not expected to continue at 2020’s fast rate, organic food sales are expected to stay on a strong growth path in 2021. It is anticipated that the grocery industry at large will get a lasting lift from the pandemic as many consumers continue to cook more at home.
“We’ve seen a great many changes during the pandemic, and some of them are here to stay,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association. “What’s come out of COVID is a renewed awareness of the importance of maintaining our health, and the important role of nutritious food. For more and more consumers, that means organic. We’ll be eating in restaurants again, but many of us will also be eating and cooking more at home. We’ll see more organic everywhere—in the stores and on our plates.”
This year’s 2021 Organic Industry Survey was conducted from January through March 2021. Nearly 200 companies participated. To purchase the full report, visit the Organic Trade Association website. OTA’s full press release on this topic can be found online here. For more information about organic certification, visit MCIA Organic Services.