FOODEX JAPAN 2017

'Don’t dismiss organic': Growing US market could offer opportunities and advice for Japan

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Rise in organic sales are outsripping growth in conventional products in the US. ©iStock
Rise in organic sales are outsripping growth in conventional products in the US. ©iStock

Related tags Organic certification Organic food

Japanese firms can tap into rising demand for organic and natural produce and products in the US by learning best practices and getting to grips with the latest market trends.

Speaking at the FoodEx Japan show in Tokyo, Monique Marez, the US-based Organic Trade Association’s international trade director, said there was a perception at the Tokyo event that organic sales in the US were steady.

“But I’m here to tell you they are actually growing,”​ she said.

She cited research showing $43bn of organic sales in US last year, largest dollar value increase in the history of the industry.

“This was an 11% rise, compared to just 3% for conventional food industry,”​ she said.

Delegates were told that organic products were now present in 75% of all categories in US supermarket, with rises across all of them in the last year, Most categories have doubled in last 10 years.

“We know that 13% of all produce sold in the US is now organic, with fresh produce often a gateway category,”​ she added.

In terms of beverages, liquor and fruit juices, both of which are strong sectors for Japan’s domestic manufacturers.

Likewise, condiments a lot of product innovation and high growth.

Sales growth

“Overall 51% of organic buyers buying more organic today than there were a year ago, and that’s very important,”​ she said.

While that may be the case, there is still only 4.3m hectares of organic farming land in the US, less than 1% of the total.

That said, there has been a 12% rise in the number of certified operations in the past couple of years. Around 25,000 are fully certified, with a further 3,500 in transition.

This was the first time OTA had attended the Tokyo event.

"Sharing our experience and lessons learned in the U.S. organic industry internationally has never been more important. Organic is growing everywhere, and many people are eager to learn about the largest market in the world,"​ she said.

"At the same time, trade opportunities for US organic businesses continue to flourish as more international buyers want the USDA Organic seal represented in their market."

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