by Associated Press
Consumer interest in the organic label continues to grow.
The organic industry says U.S. sales of its products jumped 11 percent last year alone, to more than $39 billion, despite tight domestic supplies of organic ingredients. And the number of U.S. organic operations has grown by 250 percent since the government started certifying organic products in 2002, according to new Agriculture Department data released Wednesday.
The industry estimates that organics now make up almost 5 percent of total food sales in the United States. But much of the growth is also in nonfood items like textiles and personal care items. The Organic Trade Association says those nonfood sales jumped almost 14 percent last year and totaled more than $3 billion.
The industry has been rapidly growing since the United States put strict rules in place for organic labeling 13 years ago — some critics say growing too much, as food giants like General Mills and Kellogg have entered the organic game and many small organic food companies have grown into large businesses.
Laura Batcha, head of the trade association, says that growth has helped the industry move beyond a niche market.
“The only way to create change is for there to be widespread adoption,” Batcha said.
Organic foods generally are grown with fewer chemicals and artificial ingredients and are produced according to a strict set of government standards. Foods cannot be labeled organic unless their production adheres to those rules, and those extra steps mean prices for organic products are generally higher.
USDA said the number of organic operations grew 5 percent last year and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced it will create a new database so consumers can track… see the entire article.
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