Washington, D.C.— According to the Organic Trade Association’s2017 Organic Industry Surveythat was recently released, the rise in purchases in the American organic sector indicates that more consumers across the country are using organic products than in previous years.

In 2016, organic sales in the United States totaled approximately $47 billion, showing a $3.7 billion increase in sales from 2015. Since breaking the $40-billion mark for the first time in the American organic food market, sales from organic food makes up 5.3 percent of the food sales total in the country.

"The organic industry continues to be a real bright spot in the food and ag economy both at the farm-gate and check-out counter," said OTA's CEO and executive director Laura Batcha in a press release.

Not only are organic foods sales growing, but non-food products also grew 8.8% in 2016, superseding the overall non-food growth rate of 0.8%.

"The theme of our conference is 'Organic. Big Results from Small Seeds' because of the wide and positive impact of organic," noted Batcha. "Organic farmers are not just staying in business, they're often expanding. Organic handling, manufacturing and processing facilities are being opened, enlarged and retooled. Organic farms, suppliers, and handlers are creating jobs across the country, and the organic sector is growing and creating the kinds of healthy, environmentally friendly products that consumers are increasingly demanding."

Other results of the survey show that the organic market is creating jobs. Organic businesses that currently employ more than five employees report that 2016 showed an increase of full-time employment in more than 60% of the businesses. The same companies state that in 2017, they hope to increase full-time work staff.

"Organic products of all sorts are now found in the majority of kitchens and households across our country," said Batcha. "But the organic sector is facing challenges to continue its growth. We need more organic farmers in this country to meet our growing organic demand, and the organic sector needs to have the necessary tools to grow and compete on a level playing field. That means federal, state and local programs that help support organic research, and provide the organic farmer with a fully equipped tool kit to be successful."

The growth of organics is in part due to the largest sector of organics, fruits and vegetables, being in demand and being responsible for approximately 40% of overall organic food sales. Organic seasonings and dips are also on the rise in the organic food market, growing at a rate of 41% in 2016. Organic spices grew 35%.

The survey published by the OTA indicates that consumers are increasingly aware of the health benefits of organic food products and that the growth of the organic market continues to be on an upward trend.