Looks like organic food has gone from a new-age trend to a staple in supermarkets and many American diets. According to a new analysis from the Organic Trade Association (OTA), organic food sales in 2014 jumped 11 percent to $35.9 billion, claiming almost 5 percent of the total food sales in the U.S.
The numbers are a huge spike since the OTA first kept record in 1997, where organic food sales only totaled around $3.4 billion, accounting for less than 1 percent of total food sales.
Fruits and vegetables—the number one selling organic category—raked in $13 billion in sales, a 12 percent increase from the prior year. Organic fruits and vegetables now account for 12 percent of all produce sold in the nation. Organic dairy also jumped 11 percent in sales last year to $5.46 billion, the biggest percentage increase for that category in six years. Organic food has consistently far outshone the three percent growth pace for the total food industry, the OTA said.
There are many reasons why more consumers are buying organic, including the perception that it’s healthier, more sustainable and has fewer pesticides. As we previously reported, the Rodale Institute found that there is 7 percent pesticide residue in organic foods as opposed to 38 percent in conventional produce.