LINCOLNSHIRE, IL - Despite a sharp economic downturn, organic food has been outperforming conventional food "by a wide margin," The Packer reports.
According to the Organic Trade Association€™s 2011 Organic industry Survey, the organic food industry grew eight percent last year, far better than the overall U.S. food sales growth of less than one percent.
Overall, organic food sales totaled $28.6 billion last year, with non-food organic sales topping $2 billion.
Organic fruits and vegetable sales grew 11.8 percent to $10.6 billion, compared with $9.5 billion in 2009. Overall produce sales last year were up 3.2 percent to $27.3 billion.
The news has not been lost on organic farms, 78 percent of which said they plan to maintain or increase production in the next five years, and 96 percent planning to maintain or increase employment opportunities in 2011.
While the growth numbers are impressive, they are less than half what they were two or three years before the recession, said Steve Lutz, executive vice president of the Perishables Group, attributing the difference to the recession, which he said altered discretionary food dollar spending.
"We saw some people moving from bulk to value pack, and to see people moving from organic to conventional is another of the value decisions that some consumers either make by choice or by need," Lutz said.