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Retail sales of organic food & beverages rose 12.8% in 2020, with sales of organic flour and baked goods up 30%

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty/ThamKC
Source: Getty/ThamKC

Related tags: Organic

Consumer shifts in cooking and eating habits during the pandemic more than doubled the growth rate of organic sales in 2020 compared to before the coronavirus outbreak, helping to drive up retail sales of organic products 12.4% to $61.9bn, according to the Organic Trade Association.

Within organic, food and beverage sales increased 12.8% in 2020 to $56.4bn – nearly three times the 4.6% growth to $50bn in 2019 and its highest since 2008, OTA found in its 2021 Organic Industry Survey​ of nearly 200 companies conducted by the Nutrition Business Journal and released today.

The uptick in organic sales mirrors that of overall food and beverage retail sales, which the report found grew twice as fast in 2020 at 4.9% compared to 2.6% in 2019 to reach $1.4 trillion last year. This also reflects the shift in food consumption to the home during the pandemic which allowed retail outlets to pick up sales lost by the foodservice market.

“Leading the charge for healthy food was the desire for fresh produce,”​ according to OTA, which found fresh organic produce sales increased nearly 11% in 2020 to $18.2m.

It added, as consumers opted for larger, less frequent grocery trips during the pandemic, sales of frozen fruit and vegetables rose by more than 28%. Combined with canned and dried produce, total sales of organic fruits and vegetables in 2020 reached $20.4bn.

Pantry stocking also “overwhelmingly”​ contributed to the increase in organic sales with sales of organic flour and baked goods growing 30%, OTA reports.

As the pandemic dragged on and cooking fatigue set in, OTA also found that sales of sauces and spices for “meal support” lifted sales of the condiment category 31% to $2.4bn. Sales of organic spices alone increased 51% -- up dramatically from the 15% growth in 2019, the trade group adds.

Finally, sales of organic meat, poultry and fish grew nearly 25%, bringing the smallest segment of organic categories to $1.7bn.

While OTA celebrated organic’s success in a trying year and expects the industry to remain on a “strong growth path for 2021,”​ it also realistically anticipates sales or organic for at-home consumption will slow somewhat as economies reopen.

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