The Organic Trade Association has been a-buzz with news this week, and it’s all good news to boot. Not only has data from their 2012 Organic Industry Survey revealed 9.5 percent industry growth in 2011, but a separate recently-released study suggests that the industry has created thousands more jobs than the conventional food production sector.
On Monday, the Organic Trade Association released a statement regarding the results of its 2012 Organic Industry Survey. Notably, the organic food sector had grown by $2.5 billion in 2011 to reach a total value of $29.22 billion. When added together with the organic non-food sector, which saw an 11 percent rise in growth to be valued at $2.2 billion, that’s a total of nearly $31.5 billion in sales for the country’s organic industry overall:
“The U.S. organic sector continues to show steady and healthy growth, growing overall by 9.5 percent during 2011, and, for the first time, surpassing the $30 billion mark,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director and CEO.
She added, “Consumers are increasingly engaged and discerning when they shop, making decisions based on their values and awareness about health and environmental concerns. For them, it matters whether foods are genetically engineered, or produced using practices that are good for their families. Price is still an issue, but with the wide availability of private label products and many venues for organic products, they have many choices for where to shop and a variety of products from which to choose.”
While fruits and vegetables unsurprisingly account for 50 percent of organic food sales, the report indicates that sectors like meat, fish, and poultry are growing fast – in total, organics now reportedly makes up 4.2 percent of all food sales in the United States. The OTA attributes this to recovering economy and increased consumer interest, noting that not only is this growth expected to continue in the following year, but that this growth should lead to more jobs and a healthier economy in the future.
Incidentally, that segues perfectly into Wednesday’s release from the OTA. According to a study released at the OTA’s Policy Conference, the organic food industry managed to generate over five hundred thousand jobs in the United States in 2010 alone. The report, entitled “2010 Impacts of the U.S. Organic Foods Industry on the U.S. Economy” and produced for the conference by D.C.-based M+R Strategic Services, claims to have examined both direct and indirect job-creation impacts throughout the country’s economy. Its results suggest that 28,000 jobs were created for every $1 billion in retail sales in the organics sector, and that the sector’s success led to the creation of 21 percent more jobs than if the same amount of food had been produced through conventional means alone:
“This report sends a strong message that doing what’s good for the environment and what’s good for industry economics are not mutually exclusive,” said Congressman Sam Farr (CA-17). “The organic food processing industry is creating jobs, stimulating our economy and delivering the products that consumers increasingly demand. This report is only the latest testament on why supporting organic is a no-brainer.”
“This report and OTA’s 2012 Organic Industry Survey released this week reinforce the positive contributions of the organic sector to U.S. agriculture and our economy, and emphasize how important it is to maintain funding for programs in the farm bill that encourage the spread of organic farming,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director and CEO. She added, “The message is clear – federal organic food and agriculture programs are job-creation programs.”
In short: keep up the good work, organics sector! If anything, this information should give Congress something to think about when devising its 2012 Farm Bill. It certainly seems like when it comes to funding jobs and economic growth, the smart money is on organics.
Of course, it might help if all of this was explained through a handy infographic. Lucky for us, the OTA has provided that as well. Hit it!