Organic farming - Statistics & Facts

The term “organic” broadly applies to the production of food without the use of man-made chemicals. Organically produced goods include food, food supplements, clothing, gardening products, cleaning agents, cosmetics, as well as other health and personal care products.

The need for organic food products emerged as a response to a shift towards the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers following the advent of industrialized agriculture in the 1900s. The additional introduction of antibiotics, genetically modified organisms and growth hormones in food production further drove up the demand for organic farming. As of 2015, there were over 50 million hectares of organic farming areas worldwide.

In the United States, there is also an increasing demand for organic food. Sales of organic food in the U.S. experienced a 10.6 percent growth in 2015 alone. In the same year, the U.S. organic food market generated the highest amount of revenue worldwide with sales totaling 35.78 billion euros. Organic food stores in the U.S. also continue to capture a significant share in the market for groceries. Some of the leading U.S. organic food stores include: Wild Oats Fairway, Trader Joe's, LifeSource Natural Foods, and Kimberton Whole Foods. Organic farm products in the U.S. are labeled as “certified organic” in accordance with specification standards set up by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The use of organic farming currently faces several challenges that include: difficulty in its application to industrial scale farming, low profitability as well as mainstream consumer standards for quality that are difficult for organic growers to meet. For some consumers, product taste, concerns for the environment and a desire to avoid foods from genetically engineered organisms provide enough reason for preferring organic food products. A 2015 Gallup poll conducted amongst U.S. adults reported that 44 percent of respondents actively try to include organic foods in their diet. In contrast, most the U.S. consumers interviewed in another online survey indicated that they rarely eat organic food.

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