The U.S. organic food and beverage market grew 5.9 percent in 2018 to reach $47.9 billion in sales, according to the Organic Trade Association‘s (OTA) annual Organic Industry Survey released Friday.
The growth of the U.S. organic food and beverage market has consistently slowed over the past few years. The growth of the market in 2018 was down from the 6.4-percent growth in 2017, and the 8.4-percent growth in 2016, and far below the double-digit growth rate of the five previous years.
The Washington, D.C.-based trade group said 5.7 percent of food sold in the United States is now organic.
U.S. Organic Food Sales & Growth, 2009–2018
Organic produce sales still top category
Organic produce continued to be the largest organic food category, growing 5.6 percent to hit $17.4 billion in sales in 2018, on par with the growth attained in 2017.
Produce now accounts for 36.3 percent of all organic food sales. Organic fruits and vegetable comprise 14.6 percent of all U.S. produce sold, and have nearly doubled their market share in the last 10 years.
The survey showed that the overall growth of the organic food market was significantly impacted by anemic sales growth in the second-largest organic food category.
In 2018, U.S. sales of organic dairy and eggs grew just 0.8 percent to $6.5 billion – in 2017 the category was also worth $6.5 billion, but grew at a rate of 0.9 percent, just slightly above last year’s growth rate.
Organic dairy category disappoints
However, while organic egg sales grew 9.3 percent in 2018 to $858 million, the performance of the organic milk category was disappointing.
“As more consumers get into organic, organic egg demand is expected to continue growing,” OTA said. “But where skim milk and low fat products were not so long ago favored by consumers, products high in healthy fats and protein are now popular. Many Millennials have also moved away from livestock-based products toward plant-based foods and beverages.”
Overall organic sales exceed $52 bil’
Overall, sales of organic food and non-food products were $52.5 billion, up 6.3 percent from the previous year.
In 2018, the organic non-food category reached $4.6 billion in sales with a growth rate of 10.6 percent.
“This rate is both well above the 7.4 percent growth rate reported in 2017, and the 3.6 percent growth rate reported in 2018 for the overall non-food industry (conventional and organic combined),” OTA said.