Home cooking during the pandemic fueled record growth in organic sales last year, according to the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) 2021 Organic Industry Survey released today. Organic food sales (which makes up 91.2% of all organic sales) jumped 12.8%, comprising almost 6% of total food sales. Combined, organic food and non-food products exceeded $60 billion for the first time.
The increase is due to the fact that people started cooking and eating all of their meals at home. “The pandemic caused abrupt changes in all of our lives,” said Laura Batcha, OTA’s CEO and executive director, in a press release. “We’ve been eating at home with our families, and often cooking three meals a day. Good, healthy food has never been more important, and consumers have increasingly sought out the Organic label. Organic purchases have skyrocketed as shoppers choose high-quality organic to feed and nourish their families.”
Produce, which has always been the largest organic category grew across the board, with higher sales in fresh, frozen, canned, and dried products. More than 15% of U.S. produce sales are now organic. Pantry stocking and the baking trend also contributed, with sales of organic flours and baked goods increasing by 30%. The organic condiments category grew 31%, while organic spices increased 51%. Even meat, poultry, and fish, which is the smallest of the organic categories, jumped almost 25%.
As impressive as this growth is, it might have been even bigger. Angela Jagiello, OTA’s director of education and insights, noted that “growth was limited by supply [of ingredients, packaging, etc.], causing producers, distributors, retailers and brands to wonder where numbers would have peaked if supply could have been met!”