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US organic market tops $50 billion

The U.S. organic market hit a new record high in 2018, reaching $52.5 billion in sales, up 6.3% from the previous year, according to the 2019 Organic Industry Survey released by the Organic Trade Association.

Both the organic food market and organic non-food market rose to new highs. Organic food sales climbed 5.9% to $47.9 billion, with organic non-food sales jumping 10.6 percent to $4.6 billion.

Organic sales have more than doubled since reaching $24.9 billion in 2010, according to the survey.

A few highlights from the report:

• Of all the food sold in the United States, 5.7% is now organic.

• Fruits and vegetables remain the stars of the organic food market. They account for 36.3% of all organic food sales. They also make up 14.6% of all produce sold in the U.S., nearly twice the rate of 10 years ago.

• Growth has slowed in the dairy and egg sales sector, the second-largest organic category, largely due to shifting trends. Organic dairy and egg sales rose 0.8% to $6.5 billion in 2018.

• Fiber, already the cornerstone of the organic non-food market, showed strong growth in 2018. Organic fiber sales rose $200 million to $1.8 billion in 2017.

The Organic Trade Association represents more than 9,500 organic business in 50 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others.

In a related development, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is planning its 2019 Organic Survey. The survey, conducted every five years, seeks to provide a national estimate of organic food production, costs and management practices.

An estimated 20,000 operations will be contacted. They'll be asked such questions as the number of acres planted and harvested, livestock produced and sold, expenses and sales.

The survey is expected to be mailed out in early 2020, with published results released late in the year.