Organic sales surge as consumers look for healthy options to eat at home during the pandemic

Within organic, food and beverage sales increased 12.8% in 2020 to $56.4bn – nearly three

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.