Organic product sales show strong growth in 2003

CHICAGO, Illinois, Posted June 9, 2004: U.S. organic food and non-food sales grew by approximately 20 percent during 2003, to reach $10.8 billion, according to figures from the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) 2004 Manufacturer Survey released at OTA’s All Things Organicä Conference and Trade Show at McCormick Place.

According to survey results, sales of organic foods were approximately $10.38 billion in 2003, up 20.4 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, “non-food” organic products, such as personal care products, nutritional supplements, organic fiber, household cleaners, flowers and pet food, grew by 19.8 percent, to reach $440 million in sales.

“Survey results confirm the continued strong growth of organic products in the marketplace,” said Katherine DiMatteo, OTA’s executive director.

U.S. organic food sales have grown between 17 and 21 percent each year since 1997, to nearly triple in sales, while total U.S. food sales over this time period have grown in the range of only 2 to 4 percent a year. According to the findings, organic food sales now represent approximately 2 percent of U.S. food sales.

The survey collected data for 71 food subcategories. Experiencing approximately 20 percent sales growth in 2003, organic fruits and vegetables represented about 42 percent of organic food sales. Meanwhile, the category of organic meat, poultry and fish represented only 1 percent of organic food sales but experienced the largest spurt, growing by nearly 78 percent during 2003.

OTA contracted with Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ) of San Diego, CA, to conduct the survey and analyze the results. NBJ conducted the survey in February and March. More than 300 companies responded, of which 220 firms submitted complete surveys, including revenues, growth, and produce and sales channel breakdowns. NBJ research provided revenue estimates and product and sales channel analysis for an additional 52 companies. The analysis also included register-scanned category data for calendar year 2003 from SPINS. The 2004 survey is an expanded follow-up to 1998 and 2001 surveys conducted by Starr Track for OTA.

Echoing findings in the 2001 report, this latest survey confirmed that foods are increasingly found in more mainstream retail establishments. In 2003, over 40 percent of total organic food sales were handled through supermarkets and grocery stores, mass merchandisers, and club stores. Meanwhile, independent natural product and health food stores and natural grocery chains, accounted for 48 percent of sales.

Copies of the 92-page Organic Trade Association’s 2004 Manufacturers Survey may be ordered from OTA (phone: 413-774-7511; fax: 413-774-6432; e-mail:; web: The price is $195 for OTA members, and $495 for non-members.

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