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- Organic vegetable crop basics, such as major categories and where they're grown
- Current market size and price
- Primary purchasers and markets
- Major and minor tailwinds boosting organic vegetable market health
- Major and minor headwinds currently affecting organic vegetable market prospects
- And more.
The organic produce industry, while growing rapidly, is still comparatively quite small. Of all fresh vegetable acreage worldwide, only 0.7% was dedicated to organic production as of 2019.
The highest organic acreages lie in North America, China, France, and Italy. Within the US, California leads the way, selling more than half of all organic vegetables in the country. And the US loves its fresh produce; it’s responsible for 42% of organic sales worldwide.
A majority of domestic organic food sales comprise fruits and vegetables (as opposed to grains and meats). Most of that is going to cities, where higher incomes and health-conscious trends support the higher prices of organic food, and demand continues to expand: Organic sales were up 5% in 2020.
That’s attributable to several factors. Organic is generally seen as healthier and higher quality than conventionally grown foods, largely as a result of smart marketing throughout the supply chain. Consumers have confidence in the Certified Organic label, and it’s showing up in more grocery stores. Demand is twice as high in younger consumers as older, a demographic whose incomes can be expected to rise in coming years.
While all signs point to a healthy organic vegetable market in the future, organic production can present a significant challenge for farmers.
It takes three years to transition a conventional farm to organic, a period in which the operator is investing significant capital but not yet commanding the higher prices of certified organic produce. Fortunately, federal policy has recently enacted subsidies to help with this barrier.
Organic production can have a serious learning curve, as management practices differ substantially. Maintenance costs are generally higher too.
All in all, organic vegetable production is a major investment for a farmer, but with demand growing and competition still relatively slim, carefully managed organic production can be a smart economic move.
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