Organic produce chipped into more of the market share across the U.S. in 2020, showing a 14.2 percent increase over the previous year, according to new organic industry data. These products brought in more than $8.5 billion — a $1 billion increase over 2019 — and the 2020 Organic Produce Performance Report said that that outpaced conventionally produce in both sales and volume.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, which prompted people to spend more time at home and to get a growing portion of their food from grocery stores rather than restaurants, produce sales of both conventional and organic saw a boon last year. But organic industry groups are especially buoyed by the latest news of the niche’s performance, as it represented about 12 percent of the overall produce sales in the U.S.
By volume, bananas remain at the top of the list, followed by apples, berries, and pre-packaged salads. By dollar amount, pre-packaged salads sit atop the leaderboard, with berries, apples, and herbs/spices in line immediately behind.
All four geographic regions of the country experienced double-digit growth in 2020, according to a news release by the Organic Produce Network marketing association, with the West showing the biggest increases in sales (16.8 percent) and volume (17.5 percent) over the previous year.
Organic — the production method that doesn’t use genetically engineered foods and uses only a very limited number of synthetic crop protection, focusing instead of non-synthetic chemical applications of its crops — has been bolstered by years of vocal and well-funded marketing campaigns, which has paid off for the niche with consumers.
And while the debate between organic and conventional products has been a long and heated one, independent data have shown there are no broad differences in food safety or nutritional value between organic and conventional produce. (Any differences are on the individual farm level, not the industry one.)
The Organic Produce Network said that it plans to release a more detailed look at the industry and its trends with a full report to be posted at the end of January.