The number of domestic certified organic operations in the United States rose almost 12% between 2014 and 2015.
This represents the highest growth rate since 2008 and an increase of nearly 300% since the count began in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and based on data released by its Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP).
The total retail market for organic products in the US is now valued at more than $39 billion and over $75 billion worldwide, the USDA said.
And according to new data, there are now 21,781 certified organic operations in the US and 31,160 around the world.
The significant increase in the number of certified organic operations continues the trend of double digit growth in the organic sector, the USDA said.
US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack listed organic food as one of the fasting growing segments of American agriculture. “As consumer demand for organic products continues to grow, the USDA organic seal has become a leading global standard,” he said.
The USDA said it is helping make organic certification more “accessible, attainable, and affordable through a ‘Sound and Sensible’ approach…streamlining the certification process, focusing on enforcement and working with farmers and processors to correct small issues before they become larger ones.”
Resources help identify market opportunities
Among relevant USDA resources are the site www.usda.gov/organic, while the data referred to above is publicly available as part of the recently launched Organic Integrity Database, which tracks certified organic operations.
The database allows organic certifiers to add new operations and report changes to existing operations at any time, allowing USDA to report updated counts of certified organic operations throughout the year. “The modernized system will provide data for market research, enable stakeholders to identify market opportunities and make supply chain connections, support international verification of operator status to facilitate trade, and establish technology connections with certifiers to share more accurate and timely data,” the USDA said.
Additional information about USDA resources and support for the organic sector is available on the USDA Organics Resource page.
Consumers also like local food
Along with demand for organics, consumers are increasingly asking for local foods, the USDA said, saying it has “supported providing consumers a stronger connection to their food with more than $1 billion in investments to over 40,000 local and regional food businesses and infrastructure projects since between 2009. Industry data estimates that U.S. local food sales totaled at least $12 billion in 2014, up from $5 billion in 2008.”