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US market data: Covid-19 will shape organic industry in 2020

By 19 June 2020June 15th, 2022No Comments

The US Organic Trade Association reports that the Covid-19 crisis has had dramatic consequences for the organic sector in 2020. In a time of turbulence shoppers are looking for food they can trust and organic fits the bill.

The Association is reporting that many solid growth organic categories have seen unprecedented growth. Organic produce sales after jumping by more than 50% in the early days of stockpiling were up more than 20% in spring of 2020.

They also reported that “categories experiencing softer growth have been seeing big boosts in demand: the run on groceries mean that organic milk has been in high demand, and sales of organic eggs have skyrocketed while packaged and frozen organic good saw double-digit growth.”


The 2020 survey food that the US organic sector had an excellent year in 2019 with organic sales in food and non food totalling a record $55.1 billion, an increase of 5% year on year.

Of this, total organic food growth was up 4.6% from the previous year while organic non-food grew a strong 9.2%.

“Our 2020 survey looks at organic sales in 2019 before the coronavirus outbreak, and it shows that consumers were increasingly seeking out the Organic label to feed their families the healthiest food possible. The pandemic has only increased our desire for clean, healthy food,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association. “Our normal lives have been brought to a screeching halt by the coronavirus. The commitment to the Organic label has always resided at the intersection of health and safety, and we expect that commitment to strengthen as we all get through these unsettled times.”


Current consumer attitudes

The association undertook additional research to look at shifting patterns in organic shopping and to gather data on the overall retail sector for organic as well as the supply chain, and where it is holding together and where it’s being challenged. They worked with Mercaris Data Service and Category Partners strategic insights company to put together the latest insights and outlooks for organic.

They also carried out a flash online poll of 3,188 “likely organic” shoppers in late April and early May and found:

  • More than 90% of respondents indicated that in their current food shopping organic is more important than ever.

  • 56% reported that the changes they’ve experienced in lockdown (home cooking, more simplified ways of eating) will have a lasting impact.

  • 40% reported that they will be moving away from settling for basics to seek out organic products across categories.

For more information on COVID-19 impacts, see the webinar presented by the trade association in May on organic’s shifting retail landscape as a result of the coronavirus.

For more information on the data and background the OTA press release is here.