Expanding Markets
The market for organic products is now firmly established in the American food culture: once available only in natural product stores, organic foods are now found in mainstream outlets.  U.S. sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $24.8 billion in 2009. Despite the distressed economy, organic sales in 2009 represented 5.1 percent growth over 2008 sales compared to an increase of only 1.6 percent for all food products.

While organic food sales are rising from a small base and still account for only about 3 percent of total food sales, most Americans now purchase organic products at least occasionally. According to an annual industry survey, 69 percent of U.S. consumers purchased organic products in 2008.

Experiencing the most growth, organic fruits and vegetables, which represent 38 percent of total organic food sales, reached nearly $9.5 billion in sales in 2009, up 11.4 percent from 2008 sales.

Most notable, organic fruits and vegetables now represent 11.4 percent of all U.S. produce sales(see chart on right).

Organic produce receives a higher premium than traditional produce.   The USDA Economic Research Service analyzed organic prices for 18 fruits and 19 vegetables using 2005 data and found that organic price premium as a percent of conventional price ranged from as little as 5 percent for carrots to as high as 100 percent for blueberries (i.e. consumers paid twice for organic blueberries what they normally would for conventional).