October 7, 2021

Organic food sales should remain elevated

U.S. organic sales soared to new highs in 2020, jumping a record 12.4% to $61.9 billion. This marked the first time that total sales of organic food and non-food products have surpassed the $60 billion mark, reflecting a growth rate more than twice the 2019 pace of 5%, according to the 2021 Organic Industry Survey released by the Organic Trade Association.

In 2020, the reputation of organics being better for you and the planet positioned these products for dramatic growth. In almost every organic food aisle, demand jumped by near-record levels, propelling U.S. organic food sales in 2020 up a record 12.8% to a new high of $56.4 billion. In 2020, almost 6% of the food sold in the United States was certified organic.

Leading the charge for healthy food was the desire for fresh produce. Fresh organic produce sales rose by nearly 11% in 2020 to sales of $18.2 billion, according to the survey. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables also jumped, with frozen sales alone rising by more than 28%. Including frozen, canned and dried products, total sales of organic fruit and vegetables in 2020 were $20.4 billion. According to the Organic Industry Survey, more than 15% of the fruits and vegetables sold in the U.S. are now organic.

The only factor constraining growth in the organic food sector was supply. Because of the pandemic, not only were ingredients taxed, but packaging — bottle lids, pouches, corrugated cardboard — was in short supply, as were workers and drivers to transport product, making it hard for producers to ramp up processing to meet consumer demand.

While the growth in organic food sales is not expected to continue at 2020’s frantic rate, organic food sales should stay on a strong growth path in 2021. The anticipation is that the grocery industry at large will get a lasting lift from the pandemic for the foreseeable future as many consumers continue to cook more at home.

New technologies, solutions and education addressing the changing organic produce landscape were on display at PACK EXPO Las Vegas co-located with Healthcare Packaging EXPO 2021 in September, where the packaging and processing community reunited. Produce processors looking to explore integrated solutions needed only to head to the Processing Zone in the North Hall at PACK EXPO Las Vegas.

In today’s manufacturing environment, processing and packaging are  becoming integrated systems, making it more important than ever to bring both packaging and processing solutions under one roof. Search for front-of-the-line solutions such as homogenizing, heat treating, forming/sizing and coating in The Processing Zone. With the return of The Processing Zone to PACK EXPO Las Vegas, manufacturers will have the opportunity to discover solutions to help increase efficiency, achieve total system integration and ensure safety. 

New in 2021 was the Processing Innovation Stage, also located in the North Hall at PACK EXPO Las Vegas. These 30-minute, free education sessions focused on the latest breakthroughs in processing specifically. 

With over 1,500 exhibitors, no other event in 2021 can bring together a more comprehensive gathering of suppliers offering new products, technologies and solutions. It’s where executives and plant managers, engineers, brand managers and packaging designers come to see machinery in action, connect with suppliers, network and gain the latest perspective on a plethora of industries in over 40 vertical markets. PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO will bring attendees and suppliers of packaging and processing equipment and materials together. 

To learn more about the advanced packaging and processing solutions that will be on display as well as the educational, networking opportunities and the virtual component of the show, visit www.packexpolasvegas.com.

— Maria Ferrante is senior director of marketing and communications, PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies.

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