Organic foods and beverages help drive the growth of green, report says

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Sales of organic foods and beverages grew 238% in last decade, according to report.
Sales of organic foods and beverages grew 238% in last decade, according to report.
Sales of green products and services increased right through the recent economic downturn, with sales of organic foods and beverages among the leading categories, a new report says.

Three out of four small businesses surveyed by the groups Green America, EcoVentures International and the Association for Economic Opportunity reported higher sales of green-claim products  Their report found a correlation between greener business practices and healthier bottom lines.

Green is the color of growth

The report found that over the past 10 years, the market for green products and services has expanded dramatically. The most extreme example was in construction: The green building market has increased by 1,700% while the conventional building market has contracted by 17% in the past decade.

The effect was true in the food and beverage sector, too; the organic food market has increased by 238% in comparison to the non-organic food market's expansion of only 33%.

These figures correlate well with numbers from Nutrition Business Journal​.  NBJ​ figured the organic food and beverage market in the US at $29.2 billion in 2011, with growth projected at 9.4%, as compared to an anticipated growth in the low single digits for conventional food and beverages.  Overall, NBJ​ states the organic food and beverage growth has outpaced conventional in recent years by a factor of four or five.

Study details

Conducted from late June through early August of 2012, the  survey tallied results form 1,305 small businesses respondents. The self-selected group demonstrated various levels of commitment to green practices, services and products.  A number of institutions, including Intuit, eBay and non-profit community lenders, and service providers across the U.S., distributed the survey to their small business clients and customers.

Among the key findings were these:

  • Of the respondents that reported gains during the recession, the more green the company was, the more likely it was to report increased sales. The survey segmented the 1,305 respondents into three groups based on the green attributes of their products and services and their level of adoption of specific actions intended to make more efficient use of water, energy and/or waste. The "deep green" segment in the survey (the 27% of business owners whose answers reflected the most intense embrace of "green") reported stronger performance compared to their "light green" peers (38% of respondents) on nearly every dimension tested. There also was a "medium green" segment accounting for 35% of surveyed businesses.
  • Nearly six out of 10 (58%) small businesses said that they had been able to expand their products and services with green offerings during the recent economic downturn. Of this group, 84 percent said their investment in these new green products and services had been rewarded with increased sales.
  • Nearly four out of five (79%) of small business survey respondents strongly agreed that offering green products and services gave their businesses a competitive advantage.
  • 75% of small businesses surveyed planned to expand their portfolio of green products and service offerings.

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