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The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is out with its annual industry survey, concluding that the organic sector "stayed on its upward trajectory in 2016, gaining new market share and shattering records, as consumers across the United States ate and used more organic products than ever before."

According to the survey, "Organic sales in the U.S. totaled around $47 billion in 2016, reflecting new sales of almost $3.7 billion from the previous year. The $43 billion in organic food sales marked the first time the American organic food market has broken though the $40-billion mark. Organic food now accounts for more than five percent -- 5.3 percent to be exact -- of total food sales in this country, another significant first for organic.

"Organic food sales increased by 8.4 percent, or $3.3 billion, from the previous year, blowing past the stagnant 0.6 percent growth rate in the overall food market. Sales of organic non-food products were up 8.8% in 2016, also handily surpassing the overall non-food growth rate of 0.8 percent."

And: "The $15.6-billion organic fruits and vegetables sector held onto its position as the largest of the organic food categories, accounting for almost 40 percent of all organic food sales. Posting an 8.4 percent growth rate, almost triple the 3.3 percent growth pace of total fruit and vegetable sales, organic fruits and vegetables now make up almost 15 percent of the produce that Americans eat."

The survey also suggests that "organic is creating jobs. More than 60 percent of all organic businesses with more than 5 employees reported an increase of full-time employment during 2016, and said they planned to continue boosting their full-time work staff in 2017."
KC's View:
Ironically, the fact that organic has become such big business and continues to grow is one of the things that has hurt Whole Foods, which was one of the early proponents of the segment. More people want it, and so more stores offer it, and new companies get into the category. Which closes the window a little bit on where Whole Foods can effectively communicate its value proposition and differentiated advantage.