Organic food options are becoming a staple in grocery stores as more consumers show an interest in a healthier lifestyle and becoming more ecologically aware. Below are the leading organic food statistics revealing the reason for this industry’s growth and the future trends that consumers can expect.
More and more countries are developing new organic food laws and guidelines to ensure consumers can trust anything labeled and sold as organic. In addition, agricultural land for organic food is expanding around the globe in order to feed the increasing demand. In the future, this will lead to reduced prices of organic options, making it more affordable for more consumers.
Continue reading to find out about the past, current, and future statistics of naturally grown and organic food options.
The Top 10 Organic Food Trends and Statistics (Editor’s Picks)
- Cancer risk can be reduced by 25% by eating organic foods.
- 5.7% of food sold in the United States is organic.
- In 2018, the total sales of organic food increased by 5.3% in the UK.
- 62% of Americans reveal they would choose organic if it were more affordable.
- In 2016, the US reached a total of €38.9 billion in organic food retail sales.
- Organic food industry trends show that the share of newly launched organic products increased to 10% in 2019, globally.
- Over the last 3 years in the UK, there’s been a 52% increase in the number of vegetarians and a 104% increase in vegans.
- Over a 4-year period, there was an 18% increase in the sales of organic deli lunch meat in the US.
- 44% of Polish organic food consumers choose organic due to health reasons.
- Organic pet food sales increased by 10.2% in 2018.
A lot more information about organic food awaits you in this infographic (and after it!):
Organic Food Facts
1. As a rule, organic food is grown and processed naturally without pesticides, fertilizers, or other potentially hazardous chemicals or animal byproducts.
For the US, this means agricultural products must be grown without using bioengineered genes (producing GMOs), synthetic pesticides, sewage or sludge-based fertilizers, or petroleum-based fertilizers. However, a key fact about organic food to remember is that not every country implements the same regulations.
2. Livestock has particular requirements to fulfill before it can be considered organic.
For livestock raised for dairy products, eggs, and meat to be organic, it must be given organic feed and have access to the outdoors. In addition, organic livestock cannot be given growth hormones, antibiotics, or other animal by-products.
3. Primarily eating organic foods reduces the risk of cancer by 25%.
A French study that followed 70,000 adults over the span of five years reveals that the group who consumed organic food most frequently had 25% fewer cancer diagnoses than those who never chose to eat organic. This is one of the most critical facts about organic food benefits.
4. The chemicals used to produce non-organic food contribute to a variety of chronic diseases.
A report done by the Environmental Working Group with supporting data from the FDA revealed that conventional food can have up to 2,000 chemicals in it. These are known to cause many health problems including, but not limited to, a variety of digestive issues, gut bacteria disruption, kidney stones, gout, brain damage, inflammation, hormone disruption, and and even cancer. There’s also the pollution released when chemicals are used to speed up food production. When comparing organic food vs. conventional food, organic is healthier.
5. Understanding the meaning behind different organic labels is crucial.
Before you switch, remember one of the most important facts about organic food: know your labels. “100% organic” means the food has been grown and processed using FDA-approved methods and ingredients. Just “organic” means that 90% of the ingredients are organic. “Made from organic” means at least 75% of the product’s ingredients are organic.
6. The organic pet food industry will see a 9.08% annual growth by 2023.
Increased focus on the health and overall humanization of pets has led to an increase in the organic pet food market. Conventional pet food has had links to a variety of health problems in pets. And with growing health issues such as skin problems, allergies, and digestive disorders, pet owners are considering healthier pet food alternatives.
The Demographics of Organic Food Consumers and the Current Market
7. In 2017, Switzerland had the highest per capita rate of organic food consumption.
In the natural and organic food industry, Switzerland has the highest rate of organic food consumption, with the average Swiss consumer spending €288 on organic food in a year. Denmark and Sweden followed close behind.
8. The total sales of organic food in the US increased by 5.9% in 2018.
(Food Business News)
The cost of organic food hasn’t stopped it from booming, as we can see in the 2019 Organic Industry Survey by the Organic Trade Association. Organic food sales reached $47.9 billion and are expected to continue going up in the future due to greater interest in healthier lifestyles and chemical-free foods. The sale of organic food in the US has resulted in the organic market growing by 6.3%, totaling $52.5 billion.
9. 5.7% of food sold in the United States is organic.
Organic food is readily available in nearly every store in the US. The organic food facts and statistics demonstrate that organic isn’t a niche market anymore.
10. In 14 countries, more than 10% of the farmland is organic.
Around the globe, only 1.4% of farmland is organic, but some countries have a lot higher shares than others. The countries that have the most organic farmland are Liechtenstein at 37.9%, Samoa at 37.6%, and Austria at 24%.
11. In 2018, the total sales of organic food increased by 5.3% in the UK.
This steady growth reveals that over £45 million is spent on organic food in the UK. By 2020 the market is expected to be worth £2.5 billion. Organic food industry growth in the UK is highly supported by the increase in the home delivery of organic foods.
12. In 2016, the US reached a total of €38.9 billion in organic food retail sales.
The US is the leader in organic food consumption, with the EU closely following behind (€30.7 billion in retail sales). Lagging far behind with less than 10% in organic food consumption were China (€5.9 billion) and Canada (€3 billion).
13. The statistics on organic foods show that 181 countries engaged in organic agriculture practices in 2019.
Currently, 2.9 million farmers manage nearly 70 million hectares of land for organic agriculture on a worldwide scale. It’s imperative to remember that even though a country is a leader in growing organic food, it doesn’t always necessarily mean that the people living in said county consume more organic food than others. A lot of organic food is grown for export, even though locally grown organic food is a lot healthier than imported.
14. The organic food statistics show that India leads in the highest number of organic producers, with approximately 835,000 producers.
As per the latest statistics, Asia has 6.1 million hectares of organic agricultural land, approximately 0.4% of all agricultural land in the whole region. Although China, specifically, has the most agricultural land, India has the most producers.
Organic Food Cost
15. In 2018, organic drinks and food cost $0.24 more each than conventional options.
This means they cost approximately 7.5% more than conventional food. This is a drop from 2014, when organic foods and drinks were at an additional $0.27 per unit, or 9% more than traditional food. The price of going organic has been one of the leading reasons people opt out of choosing organic over conventional options. But as we can see, the price of organic food vs. non-organic is slowly narrowing.
16. 62% of Americans reveal they would buy organic if it were more affordable.
However, authenticity is another significant deterrent, with only 26% of shoppers claiming they trust most food labels marked organic. Only 13% believe that organic foods are well-regulated. Still, the price difference between organic and non-organic food continues to be the leading reason consumers select conventional food options.
17. There are ways to buy organic for less.
As the cost of organic food vs. conventional food is still higher, consumers are turning to alternative shopping options. One of the most popular is choosing to shop at farmer’s markets where local farmers sell their produce. Another alternative option is joining a food co-op, and lastly, one can join a community-supported agricultural farm, or CSA. Other tips include buying organic produce that’s in season and spending more time comparing prices.
18. Over the last 3 years in the UK, there’s been a 52% increase in the number of vegetarians and a 104% increase in vegans.
Another driver for organic food industry growth is more individuals choosing a healthier diet that cuts out animal products. This goes hand in hand with choosing natural food options and a willingness to pay the price difference between conventional food options and organic. Vegan and vegetarian consumers are generally inclined to purchasing organic as it’s an indication of a healthier lifestyle.
19. £19.5 million was spent in the UK as a result of the Soil Association’s Food for Life Served Here award.
The UK’s organic food sales are highly driven by food services and other services associated with eating out. A notable driver is the Organic Food Served Here award, which makes organic food more accessible to consumers soliciting restaurants, delivery services, and take-out restaurants. This further proves that the price of organic food isn’t as much of a deterrent as once thought.
20. In the US, there was an 18% increase in the sales of organic deli lunch meat over a 4-year period.
With more consumers seeking fresh and organic foods, the sales of both organic lunch meat and organic deli cheese (26%) have gone up. The sale of organic deli options has driven consumers back to the deli counter after a considerable drop due to the frustrating waiting times for it to be sliced. Today, consumers want fresh options despite the fact that the average cost of organic food per month will force their budget to go up.
21. Gen Z-ers and millennials are more likely to buy organic drinks and food.
A recent report reveals that those aged 16–34 from Poland, Spain, Italy, and Germany are more willing to buy and spend more on organic food. 38% of Gen Z-ers from Spain feel organic food gives a good value for their money in comparison to the average Spanish consumer (just 26%). Germans come in second, with 27% of Gen Z-ers willing to shell out more for organic foods.
Consumer Trends in Organic Food
For comparison, in 2009, this number was only 6%. The consumer trends in shopping organic are increasing as more and more people switch to a healthier lifestyle. Organic gives the reassurance that many consumers need these days.
Europe is the leader with organic having a 17% share in 2019, growing from 9% in 2009. This trend in new organic food and drink products was led by France, where organic had a 22% share of new product launches between 2018 and 2019.
23. The UK organic market has grown 8 years in a row and will continue to do so.
The UK organic market is expected to reach £2.5 billion by 2020. It isn’t only food that drives this continuous growth—alcoholic drinks such as wine, beer, and other spirits are high in demand as well. These trends in organic food reflect how the younger generations in the rest of Europe continue to encourage this growth.
24. 51% of parents would like to have healthier alternatives to their kids’ favorite foods.
Compared to adults with no children, 3%–4% more parents are more willing to pay extra for organic food and drinks for their children. Although most baby food usually has some form of organic label, the rest of children’s food products and snacks rarely do. This leaves a vast untapped market that’s yet to be developed further as parents are willing to overlook the cost of GMO foods vs. organic.
25. Currently, 57% of children are on track to become obese by the age of 35 based on their bad eating habits.
Today’s parents are resorting to kid-friendly foods. As a result, the food market responds by only offering child-friendly foods that kids are already familiar with—preventing them from expanding their palates. In the future, this will instill poor food choices, leading to obesity as adults.
26. 44% of Polish organic food consumers choose organic due to health reasons.
When it comes to organic food sales, trends reveal that different countries have varying leading reasons for choosing organic food, although they’re more or less similar. In Spain, 42% also choose organic for health reasons, while the leading cause of choosing organic in France (46%) is because it’s better for the environment.
27. 63% of French consumers want more scientific research proving that organic is better than conventional food.
One of the leading points keeping consumers from choosing organic, aside from price, is that they don’t trust organic labeling. Meanwhile, 47% of the German population feels that it isn’t clear why the cost of eating organic food is higher than conventional food. 55% of consumers in Italy see only a small difference between traditional and organic food quality. Overall, consumers from five different European markets feel that organic food labeling only gives producers an excuse to ask a higher price.
28. The younger generations either changed their eating habits to healthier alternatives in the past year, or they plan to within a year.
47% of young adults between 18 and 34 years old have switched to healthier eating habits in the past year. An impressive 53% of the same age group plans to change to a healthier diet in the next year. Although these organic food statistics from 2016 are a few years old, with the continuous growth of the organic food market, these numbers no doubt remain steady.
29. In the UK, home delivery leads the organic food industry in sales growth, with this channel jumping by 14.2% from 2017 to 2018.
In second place came the food service sector at 7.8%, closely followed by independent retailers at 6.2%. Nearly half the growth, in last place, were supermarkets with only 3.3% growth. Similar natural and organic food industry growth was observed, though supermarkets actually saw a drop rather than an increase.
30. Organic pet food sales increased by 10.2% in 2018—its conventional counterpart grew by only 1.9%.
(Winsight Grocery Business)
Millennials mainly drive this growth, as approximately 73% of millennials own a pet and are more conscious about healthy food options. When it comes to sales of organic foods, statistics reveal that this trend will continue as pet owners are willing to overlook the higher price tag if it ensures a longer, healthier life for their pet.
31. There was a 14.2% growth in online organic food shopping in 2018.
This is at least partially due to younger generations being the highest consumers of organic foods. They’re more tech-savvy and have statistically shown themselves to be the biggest online consumers. Also, statistics reveal that the costs of organic foods are generally lower than in-store options, and it’s easier to compare prices.
32. A recent report reveals that 83% of Americans will buy organic, while six years ago, only 30% of them did so.
(Pan American Life)
The popularity of organic foods has increased drastically over the years, and this trend seems to be continuing. There are many drivers for this, including concerns of chemicals in conventional foods, health reasons, and concerns about the environment. Still, many are skeptical about whether organic truly is a healthier and better choice, or just more expensive.
Organic Food Industry: Analysis and Forecast
33. In the next 10–15 years, 80% of today’s millennials will be parents.
Organic food isn’t a trend, but a future expectation from manufacturers. As millennials and even younger generations are among the main drivers of the organic food market, it’s expected that they’ll continue to boost the steadily rising statistics on organic food through healthier food choices for their children.
Although most organic shopping channels’ shares will change as the shopping patterns of consumers shift, the online organic market share will stay more or less the same. In the next five years, the discount supermarket organic share is expected to increase to 10%. The high cost of organic food is unlikely to affect the overall organic share as it will continue to grow steadily.
35. By 2025, the highest expected CAGR in organic food will be a 7% growth in meat, poultry, and fish consumption.
(Grand View Research)
More people are concerned about additives and artificial preservatives in poultry, meat, and fish, leading to more demand for organic, clean alternatives.
36. The current $124 billion organic food market is expected to reach $262 billion by 2022.
(Department of Agriculture)
Growth in the organic food industry will continue. Aside from the health and ecological concerns, this increase will also be driven by working professionals demanding ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat organic products.
37. In 2018, 93 countries passed legislation pertaining to organics, but more are joining in.
By having specific laws and legislation in place for organic products, more people can trust organic labels and, thus, may choose to pay more for organic food over conventional. Currently, 93 countries have comprehensive legislation, 16 countries are in the process of drafting it, and 29 countries don’t have national legislation but do have regional or national standards. This added control will further drive these organic food market statistics.
38. By 2023, the US will spend $50 million in funding for the Organic Research and Extension Initiative program.
This is double the previous funding, which will allow more in-depth research into organic options, information, and development. The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 allows for significant improvements in organic agriculture, including funding for research into and the improvement of organic trade.
39. After July 2020, organic production in the EU will be more accessible due to more straightforward rules developed by the European Council.
Some of the more shocking facts about organic food reveal that small farmers consistently have a hard time getting into organic production due to the complex rules and high costs. These new changes will make the guidelines simpler for farmers to work with so they can export their products. One significant change will allow cooperatives and groups of farmers to apply for an organic certificate together, thus sharing costs and inspections.
40. By 2027, the global organic food and beverage market is forecast to reach $679.81 billion.
Organic food statistics from 2019 reveal an estimated CACR of 17.05% over the next eight years. This is mainly due to more consumer awareness about the advantages of organic food.
41. By 2020, a new mix of organic flours will hit market shelves.
Whole Foods expects that by 2020 consumers will have a more extensive choice of flour as demand for healthier, gluten-free choices rise. This prediction expects that packaged foods such as chips and snacks will also implement more flour alternatives.
If the organic food statistics above haven’t answered your questions, below are the most common questions asked by consumers about organic food. Today, organic is on the rise not only in the food sector but across the board as more people grow concerned about both their health and the environment. Still, many are skeptical as to whether it’s worth the added price, if it really is healthier and safer, and if it truly is the best choice.
What percentage of food is organic?
Currently, 5.7% of the food sold in the US is organic. Although still relatively low in comparison to conventional food, it has become a leader in growth in the food market.
Is organic food really better for you?
Along with the numerous health benefits, including fewer or even zero pesticides, it’s fresher and it doesn’t have antibiotics, animal byproducts, or growth hormones. These are just a few of organic food’s benefits—it’s easy to conclude that it’s much healthier than the conventional food found on the grocery store’s shelves.
Is the organic food industry growing?
As per the statistics above, not to mention the projections for the future, the organic food industry is growing and will continue to improve dramatically as more people become aware of the benefits of choosing organic.
Why has organic food become more popular?
A recent survey revealed that the leading reason for 90% of those asked is to avoid pesticides, 70% choose organic to avoid GMOs, and lastly, 40% are drawn to its nutritional value.
What foods are not worth buying organic?
One of the leading reasons to buy organic is to avoid pesticides. The top five foods that can be bought conventional rather than organic include the following: avocados, pineapples, cabbage, and frozen sweet peas. Sweet corn rounds out the top five—some sweet corn is produced from genetically engineered seed stock, so if you want to avoid GE products, you may want to buy organic.
What qualifies food as organic?
Different countries have different regulations regarding organic food. For the US, organic food is approved through the FDA and marked as “100% organic,” “organic,” or “made from organic.” “100% organic” means the food is grown and processed through specific FDA methods and ingredients. An “organic” label indicates that it’s 90% organic, while “made from organic” means it’s at least 75% organic.
Why do organic foods cost more than non-organic?
There are several reasons for this. One leading cause is that the organic food market is limited in comparison to the conventional market, yet it still has a high demand. The production costs of organic food, as well as the risk of potential loss, are much higher as well. These are only two of the many reasons for its higher price.
Whether you choose organic or conventional food, the preceding organic food statistics speak for themselves: this industry is on the rise as more consumers want healthier food options. Considering its current rate of growth, organic food will be more affordable in the future as the market expands, making it more accessible for consumers—and further fueling its market growth.
- Barry Callebaut
- Cision PR Newswire
- Cision PR Newswire
- Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
- European Parliament
- Food Business News
- Grand View Research
- IFOAM Organics International
- Organic eprints
- Organic World
- Pan American Life Insurance Group
- Soil Association
- The Spruce Eats
- The Washington Post
- Winsight Grocery Business