Record sales of organic food as pandemic boosts home cooking
Americans bought a record $56.5 billion of organic food last year, an increase of nearly 13% from 2019, as shoppers flooded grocery stores due to stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, said a survey released on Tuesday by the Organic Trade Association. Certified organic food accounted for almost 6% of grocery sales.
“The pandemic caused abrupt changes in all of our lives,” said Laura Batcha, OTA chief executive. “We’ve been eating at home with our families and often cooking three meals a day.”
The OTA said food sales “are expected to stay on a strong growth path in 2021,” although not as rapid as in 2020, the fastest rate in a decade. The survey was released as part of the Natural Products West Expo.
Sales of organic fruits and vegetables totaled $20.4 billion, accounting for more than one-third of all organic food sales and 15% of all fruits and vegetables sold in the country. Sales of organic meat, poultry, and seafood surged by 25% during 2020, to $1.7 billion. Outbreaks of COVID-19 at packing plants slowed U.S. meat production last spring and resulted in high meat prices for most of the year.
Consumers are likely to continue their pandemic patterns of shopping online and preparing meals for themselves, said a trade group for grocers, hailing “this new era of at-home meals.” Drawing on research into grocery shopping habits, FMI-The Food Industry Association said 58% of shoppers are eating at home more frequently and 49% said they are making their own meals more often than before the pandemic. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults shopped for food online last year and 29% of online shoppers placed a weekly order.