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Up, Up, and Away – Organics Trending

There is more good news for all of us clean foodie types – The popularity of organic and sustainable food is at an all-time high, with organic meat options leading the fastest growing sector. 

Organic food sales in the U.S. have come a long way in 20 years, growing over 40billion in growth profit sales from 1997 to 2017. Last year, sales were up 6.4 percent year over year, well above the 1.1 percent growth in the overall food market and claiming 5.5 percent of the nearly $822.2 billion in total sales.

“Consumers love organic, and now we’re able to choose organic in practically every aisle of the store,” Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the Organic Trade Association, said in a press release accompanying the latest data on organic sales.

“The organic food market will see a steadier pace of growth as it matures, but it will continue to surpass the growth rate of the broader food market,” Batcha continues. “Demand for organic is flourishing as consumers seek out nutritious and clean food that is good for their health and for the environment. That demand is driving innovation, and there are now so many organic options that we can all eat organic for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and everything in between.”

Flourishing Produce

Produce remained the top organic category in 2017 with $16.5 billion in sales on 5.3 percent growth. Fresh produce accounted for 90 percent of those sales, but organic dried beans, dried fruits, and dried vegetables increased 9 percent.

Organic produce is the active gateway to other organic products. Category research shows that (organic produce) is becoming more mainstream, and is purchased by a more diverse group of consumers than the niche group of the past. Even more interesting is that when consumers dabble in organic produce, they are more likely to purchase organic goods throughout the rest of the store – which translates into more organic sales.

Here’s the scoop on Organic Produce buyers:

  • Millennials – 62% bought organic produce in the last 30 days
  • Casual Shoppers – not exclusive organic products
  • Parents with Kids at Home – 61% bought organic produce in the last 30 days
  • Earning +50K Annually – or single without kids – even if they earn <50K

The demand for organic food is growing at a remarkable rate. Consumers have made it clear that they want organic produce and every sector of the food chain is responding, with the kind of results we have just seen.”

~  Prince Charles

The Dish on Meat
Many culinary leaders predict that 2018 will be the year animal-based protein makes a push to reclaim space on America’s center plate. Of the 700 professional chefs and members of the American Culinary Federation surveyed by the National Restaurant Association, 69% predicted new cuts of meat would be a hot trend in 2018. Poultry, game, and sustainable seafood are on the rise. Beef is not the only animal product predicted to be big. This trend is likely fueled by rising consumer concerns about animal welfare. There is a popular notion that if an animal has a better life, it will be healthier for consumption. This is playing out in the increased consumer demand for slower-growing chickens and animal products that are organic and natural.

Organic in a Glass

Organic beverages rose 10.9 percent to $5.9 billion, making it the third-largest organic category. The driver was fresh juices with $1.2 billion in sales, an increase of 25 percent. Non-dairy organic beverage alternatives such as almond, soy, coconut and rice drinks also gained popularity.

As for the alcoholic libations, they have been riding this organic train far before it was popular.  Organic, natural, biodynamic – these are all terms that are very well nested into vino-lingo. So, what’s new for this sector? Have you heard of ‘SOLA’?  It stands for Sustainable – Organic – Lower Alcohol, and it’s the new catchphrase index for the organic wine industry.

Spirits are now catching on to the phenome, too. Organic barley growers are not only playing with beer purveyors; now other spirited companions are taking advantage. Such categories include Scotch, Whisky, and even Vodka. 

Not So Egg-celent

Unfortunately, it was a challenging year in the dairy and egg category. While still the second-largest selling organic category, sales grew just 0.9 percent to $6.5 billion. The USDA is taking the brunt of the blame of this fall-out; many speculate that the requirements regarding outdoor access for organic poultry and livestock are unclear and inconsistently applied.

“This is an issue that we have been concerned about over time and are watching very closely because the dampening of that one part of the marketplace is tied to the failure of USDA to move forward with animal welfare standards in organic,” said CEO of OTA, Laura Batcha.

She further explained that the industry worked hard to build consensus around the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule to clarify animal welfare standards under the organic seal, which was finalized during the 11th hour of the Obama administration, only to be withdrawn by the USDA after the Trump administration took office, despite protestations by the industry.

Many producers have entered the organic dairy market over the last several years, creating a new wave of supply. But that supply hit the market as demand for organic milk began to shift to more plant-based beverages — creating a situation of too much of a good thing.

Despite the slump in milk sales, sales of organic ice cream were up more than 9 percent in 2017, and organic cheese sales grew by almost 8 percent.


1.  The Capital Press of What’s Ag –

2.  Drovers –

3.  New Hope Network –

4.  Freashspective –

5. Foodnaviator-USA;

6.  Beverage Daily –

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