Global Organic Food & Drink Sales Approach $60 Billion

The global market for organic food & drink is recovering from the economic slowdown, with revenues projected to approach $60 billion this year. Although growth has slowed from previous years, revenues have expanded over three-fold from $18 billion in 2000.

In its new Global Organic Food & Drink Market report, Organic Monitor finds that global sales increased by just 4.7 percent in 2009, compared to previous years of double-digit expansion. The European market was the most affected by the financial crisis; major food retailers rationalised their organic product ranges as consumer purchasing power declined. The UK organic products market contracted last year, whilst the German market stagnated. In contrast, the market in some countries – including Sweden and France – showed resilience, reporting growth rates in excess of 15 percent.

The North American market for organic food & drink continues to show healthy growth. It has overtaken the European market this year to become the largest in the world. Although the US has shown a large rise in organic farmland, organic food supply continues to fall short of demand; organic products are imported from various regions. Latin America has become a major source of organic fruits, vegetables, meats, seeds, nuts and ingredients.

The market for organic products in other regions is also showing healthy growth, especially in Asia and Latin America. Growing consumer awareness of organic agriculture and increasing distribution are the major drivers of market growth in these regions. Organic foods are becoming widely available in large food retailers, with some launching private labels.

Organic Monitor projects global organic food & drink sales to expand at higher growth rates from 2011 onwards. Consumer expenditure is rising as the world economy comes out of recession. With food inflation looming again, prices of organic products are envisaged to increase. In anticipation, leading organic food companies are locking in supply of organic ingredients; some by investing in ethical sourcing projects in developing countries.

The report finds the price premium remains a major barrier to wider adoption rates. High prices of organic products restrict demand to affluent consumers. A major challenge is to overcome the expensive perception of organic products. Even though some organic products have price differential of just 15 percent, the premium perception of organic foods is dampening consumer demand.

Future growth projections are given for the organic food industry. Organic farming is practiced on 35 million hectares in 154 countries. Organic Monitor expects most increases in organic farmland to occur in developing countries, whereas demand is expected to remain concentrated in affluent countries. Although the sales share of Asia, Australasia and Latin America is rising, the bulk of revenues remain from Europe and North America.

Organic standards are becoming an impediment to global trade of organic products. The number of organic standards is proliferating, however there is a lack of harmonisation between leading standards. Consequently, organic food producers have to adopt multiple standards to develop an international presence.

Organic Monitor also sees growing convergence between organic and other eco-labels. Growing consumer demand for ethical & ecological products is leading food companies to consider various eco-labels. Leading certification agencies are responding by integrating sustainability values into their organic standards. Thus, a growing number of organic products are certified organic and fair trade. This development is most evident for commodities, such as coffee, cocoa, tea and sugar.

The future growth of the organic food industry is a major theme of the upcoming Sustainable Foods Summit, taking place in San Francisco on 18-19th January 2011. The summit will present the latest findings on the global market for organic food & drink, as well as showcase companies who are pushing the frontiers of the organic products industry.


About Organic Monitor

Organic Monitor is a specialist research, consulting & training company that focuses on the global organic & related product industries. Since our formation in 2001, we have been providing a range of business services to operators in high-growth ethical & sustainable industries. Our services include market research publications, business & technical consulting, summits, seminars & workshops. Visit us at

Sustainable Foods Summit

Organised by Organic Monitor, the aim of the Sustainable Foods Summit is to discuss and debate the major issues the food industry faces concerning concerning sustainability and eco-labels, such as Organic, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, etc. The North American edition of this executive summit takes place at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, San Francisco on 18-19th January 2011. More information is available from

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One response

  1. WIth the major (N American and European) markets consuming over 90% of global organic food yet with only a third of the land, herein lies the opportunity for South Africa and surrounding countries to use this opportunity to stimulate agriculture and address unemployment and food security. The biggest obtacles: 1) an entrenched behaviour to use conventional agrochem and biotech agriculture; and, 2) the stigma that agriculture still holds as a symbol of apartheid. Too many rural communities in SA see cities (falsely) as offering solutions rather than agriculture. is striving to change this perception.

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