Organic fresh produce sales rose by more than 13% to $9.7 billion in 2012, according to the latest Organic Trade Association survey.

Total organic food sales rose 10.2% in 2012, topping more than $29 billion, according to the 2013 Organic Industry Survey from the Brattleboro Vt.-based Organic Trade Association.

That double-digit organic growth compares favorably to conventional food sales, which the report said rose only 3.7% in 2012.

Organic food accounts for 4.3% of total food sales, according to the survey, but the share of market is bigger for organic fruits and vegetables. The 2013 survey reported organic fruits and vegetables account for just over 10% of consumer fruit and vegetable sales, compared with 6% in 2006 and 2% in 1998. The survey said that organic fresh produce accounts for 90.8% of all organic fruit and vegetable sales.

Organic fruits and vegetables are a substantial and rising component of total organic food sales, according to the OTA survey. Organic fruit and vegetable sales accounted for 34.8% of all organic food sales in 2012, up from 34% in 2011 and 33.2% in 2010.

In general, the survey found that the growth in organic demand in 2012 reflected an improving economy.

“The U.S. organic product marketing continued to climb in 2012, putting more distance between the growth of today and the difficulties of the recession in 2009,” the executive summary said.

The complete 2013 Organic Industry Survey is available for purchase at the group’s website at $795 for members and $1,495 for nonmembers.

The executive summary of the 134-page report said the survey used a revised methodology this year to estimate the size of the organic produce market. A produce-specific survey was sent to all certified organic farmers who grow organic crops, and the summary said 200 farmers participated in the survey.

The revised model is based on organic produce sales by channel, according to the summary.

The new estimation methods resulted in downward revision of past total organic food and produce sales, said Barbara Haumann, spokeswoman for the Brattleboro, Vt.-based Organic Trade Association. For example, last year’s Organic Industry Survey put the total organic food and beverage organic market at $29.22 billion; that has been adjusted to $26.3 billion in the latest estimate. Previous estimates were skewed by some duplication of counting for organic produce, she said.

The survey’s executive summary said that U.S. consumer sales of organic food and non-food products topped $31.5 billion in 2012, up 10.3% up from 2011. Organic food accounts for 92% of the total organic market, according to the survey.


Growth rate in sales of organic fruits and vegetables

(all forms)

Year Growth Rate

2002 15.8%

2003 18%

2004 10.7%

2005 11.1%

2006 14.1%

2007 14.9%

2008 12%

2009 10.8%

2010 11.8%

2011 11.8%

2012 12.9%

Source: 2013 Organic Industry Survey