The organic food industry achieved its fastest growth rate in five years in 2013, says a new survey from the Organic Trade Association (OTA). An 11.5% jump saw the industry reach $35.1 billion in sales, up from $31.5 billion in 2012. The growth is set to continue, according to OTA, as the Organic Industry Survey projects that this rate will at least be matched and possibly exceeded over the next two years.

Over 200 companies responded to the survey, which was conducted throughout the beginning of 2014. Companies reported revenues and sales growth, as well as revenue by product and by sales channel. Of the total sales figure, $32.3 billion went to organic food. Non-food organic products like flowers, household products and pet food represent $2.8 billion in sales. Non-food organic sales have grown nearly eight times higher since 2002.

At over 4%, organic food is still just a drop in the bucket of total annual U.S. food sales, which amount to $760 billion. But the growth rate of organic food has averaged nearly 10% annually since 2010, compared with just over 3% in average annual growth for total food sales. Organic fruit and vegetables still lead the market with $11.6 billion in sales, a growth of 15%. Only organic dairy and organic beverages failed to reach double-digit growth rates, with 8% and 5% respectively.

OTA notes that challenges are ahead, as U.S. farmland will need to be converted to organic at a faster rate to keep pace with demand. Prices of organic feed and grain also threaten to limit growth in the organic dairy and meat sectors.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, July 2014