Covid-19 boosts organic industry after a banner year in 2019

18 June 2020, 08:16 AM
  • Shoppers say buying organic is more important than ever amid the coronavirus pandemic after organic sales reached a record $55.1bn last year
Covid-19 boosts organic industry after a banner year in 2019

After a banner year for the organic industry in 2019, the sector is receiving a further boost as shoppers favour healthy, clean food options amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, the organic market brought in a record $55.1bn, according to a report by the Organic Trade Association (OTA). Organic food sales hit $50.1bn, up 4.6 percent from the previous year, while organic non-food sales reached over $5bn, growing 9.2 percent. Both sectors easily outpaced the general market growth rate of two percent for food sales and three percent for non-food sales.

Consumers are eating more organic food and using more organic products than ever before, the 2020 Organic Industry Survey says, and as health comes into focus in light of the Covid-19 crisis, many solid-growth organic categories have seen demand exploding even further.

For example, organic produce sales jumped 50 percent in the early days of the crisis as panic-buying shoppers sought to fill their homes with essentials. By spring 2020, sales were still up by more than 20 percent.

“It’s hard to know what’s ahead of us, but consumers will continue to trust in and depend on the Organic label,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the Organic Trade Association. “Organic producers and processors – indeed the entire organic supply chain – have been working around the clock through this difficult time to keep our stores filled with healthy, toxic-free and sustainably produced organic food and products. Organic is going to be there for the consumer.”

Specifically, all of the staple categories, including dairy and eggs, breads, pastas, rice and grains and baking supplies are expected to see increased growth in 2020. Organic vitamins and immunity-related products are also likely to see strong growth.

While consumers may be willing to invest in premium products when it comes to their health, the OTA warned that the economic downturn caused by the pandemic may also result in a slowdown in the growth of organic sales. However, in an online flash poll of more than 3,000 “likely organic” shoppers in late April and early May, the OTA found that over 90 percent of respondents said that in their current food shopping, organic was more important than ever. While the future remains uncertain, the organic industry is certainly feeling a coronavirus boost.

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