The U.S. Organic Industry is growing, growing, growing—organic food now accounts for 5.3% of all food sales in the U.S. We don’t need to tell you…across all organic food categories, shoppers are placing high value on freshness and convenience.

Says Laura Batcha, chief executive officer of the Organic Trade Association (OTA), “The organic industry continues to be a real bright spot in the food and agriculture economy, both at the farm gate and the check-out counter.”

Meeting Demand 

Good news, right? Yes, if the supply could meet the demand. Even as consumer demand for organic food grows, the percentage of certified organic farmland in the United States stays below 1%. According to the USDA, the annual sales of organic foods has increased by double digits every year since the 1990s. This is great! However this low supply/high demand dichotomy leaves farmers struggling to meet the needs of their customers. Transitioning to organic is a three-year process that can often leave the farmer in an odd limbo between conventional and organic production, which can prove to be very costly. Larger farms have the resources, but many medium and small farms cannot afford the risk.

There is a silver lining…a new program has recently been launched to help mitigate the burden of farm transition. Leading organic certifier Quality Assurance international (QAI), part of the National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF), is working with industry partners to support farmers through the Cettifed Transitional Program. By auditing and verifying each step of the three-year process, the program assures consumers that they are supporting a farm through a challenging transition, and it provides farmers a way to continue to sell their crops as they convert their land to be eligible for organic certification. Programs on the local, state and federal levels will still be needed to support farms in transition, but the Certified Transitional label will go a long way toward helping farmers to join the organic movement.

For more information, visit the QAI website or NSF.

Article courtesy of the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association (INFRA). Rising Tide Market is a  proud member of INFRA!