The worldwide organic food market has been growing at a rate of twenty percent per year, since 1990, and accounts for one to two percent of total food sales. In a ten-year period in the UK, organic food sales increased from 100 million pounds to 1.2 billion pounds. Similar growth has occurred in the US, which combined with the EU accounts for 95% of all retail sales of organic food products. One study undertaken by the Organic Trade Association reported that sales of all organic products rose from $1 billion in 1990 to $24.6 billion in 2008, with a reported increase of 17% in that year alone, despite other industries being severely impacted by the recession. A 2009 Organic Industry Survey in the US stated that the biggest industry segments were: fruit and vegetables at 37%, dairy at 16 percent, non-dairy beverages at 13 percent, and organic meat at 3%. Industry sectors that were previously small have experienced some rapid growth too, sales of organic meat for example increased in the US by 12% last year alone. Seafood, pet products, beer, wine, and nutritional bars have also risen in recent years.
Another trend that seems to now have settled in is the marketing of organic food to younger people. In 2008 Datamonitors Productscan Database predicted this to be a top trend for the US in 2008. Spurred on by increasing controversy of unethical marketing of food products to children, many food giants have opted to go organic. In New Zealand, Heinz Wattie was one of the first to do so. More recently Mcdonald's in the UK has deemed all its milk products to be organic. The US however is slower than most. In Italy, the government legislated that all food used in school lunch programmes be organic in 2005, and all baby food in Germany now 'must be' organic.
Although the customer has had a huge impact on the growth of the organic industry by voting with their wallets, legislation has, and always will have, the greatest impact on determining what food is available to buy and therefore what we eat. In 1990 one of the most of the courageous stands in the organic movement, by the government, was made by Cuba. The government of the time converted all farmland in the country to organic farmland and banned most chemicals used in conventional farming.
That really is a testament to change. Happy gardening!