Fresh produce remains a top category in organic food sales, according to the most recent survey results released by the Organic Trade Association.

Of those families surveyed who said they buy organic products, 97% said they buy organic fruits and vegetables at least “sometimes.”

Samantha Cabaluna, communications director for Earthbound Farm in San Juan Bautista, Calif., said she was not surprised by the survey results related to fresh produce. The company grows and sells only organic produce.

Produce still leading organic food sales“Fruits and vegetables have always been a gateway to the organic category,” Cabaluna said. “That makes sense to me because fresh produce is essentially the same as it was in the field when you buy and consume it.”

Executive director and chief executive officer of the organic association, Christine Bushway, said in a news release that the survey makes it clear organic food is no longer a niche market — 78% of respondents said they buy some organic foods. The survey also showed four out of 10 families have increased their organic food purchases in the past year.

Additional highlights from the survey include:

• 48% of parents said their strongest motivator for buying organic products is the belief that they are healthier;

• 79% of families are increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables to maintain their health;

• 91% of respondents said they would still buy produce even if the specific organic commodity they wanted was not available;

• 72% of parents are now familiar with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s organic seal, up from 65% in 2009;

• 30% of respondents are new to the organic marketplace; and

• 89% said it was “very” or “somewhat” important to know if a product contains genetically modified ingredients and they want manufacturers to include such information on labels.

This marks the third year for the annual survey, which the Brattleboro, Vt.-based OTA did in partnership with KIWI Magazine. The survey involved almost 1,300 consumers with at least one child and has a 3% plus or minus “confidence level,” according to the survey executive summary.

The full study, including a PowerPoint presentation, is available for $1,995. OTA members will receive a special rate of $1,495.