Hungry Americans are reaching for organic products like heirloom apples and chemical-free deodorants more than ever. U.S. sales of organic food, clothing and other goods leapt 11 percent last year and the number of certified organic producers saw “remarkable growth.” And the fast pace of the organic industry’s expansion is helping it capture a greater share of the American food market.
Organic food and products grew in sales to $39.1 billion in 2014, according to a report from the Organic Trade Association released Wednesday. Overall food sales in the U.S. grow by about 3 percent per year on average.
Organic sales now account for nearly 5 percent of all food sales in the U.S. But America’s appetite for organic fruits and vegetables is especially hearty — the market share for organic produce has doubled over the past 10 years and these sales now account for 12 percent of all produce sales.
The Department of Agriculture uses strict protocol to determine whether an operation or product can be called “organic.” The agency’s rules forbid farmers or manufacturers from using genetically-modified ingredients, prevent the use of many synthetic substances such as chemical fertilizers and require livestock to have access to the outdoors. Once growers and producers are certified, they may use an official USDA organic seal on their products.