Organic fiber sales in the U.S. broke another record in 2016, hitting $1.4 billion and posting a percent increase from 2015, according to the recently released 2017 Organic Industry Survey from the Organic Trade Association.
The organic fiber and textiles category continues to rank as the largest non-food organic category in the U.S. market. Organic fiber sales now account for nearly 40 percent of the $3.9 billion in organic non-food sales in 2016.
Increasing consumer awareness and the growing knowledge that what people put on their bodies is as important as what they put in it, is driving growth in the organic textiles and fiber market, OTA said.
The OTA survey showed that organic sales in the U.S. totaled about $47 billion in 2016, including a record $3.9 billion in sales of organic non-food products like organic textiles, household products, personal care products, supplements, pet food and flowers.
The survey also showed that organic is creating jobs. More than 60 percent of all organic businesses with more than five employees reported an increase of full-time employment during 2016 and said they planned to continue boosting their full-time work staff in 2017.
“The organic industry continues to be a real bright spot in the food and ag economy both at the farm-gate and check-out counter,” said Laura Batcha, OTA’s chief executive officer and executive director. Organic farmers are not just staying in business, they’re often expanding. Organic handling, manufacturing and processing facilities are being opened, enlarged and retooled. Organic farms, suppliers, and handlers are creating jobs across the country, and the organic sector is growing and creating the kinds of healthy, environmentally friendly products that consumers are increasingly demanding.”
Adequate supplies of organic textiles are a continuing challenge in the organic fiber market. However, U.S. organic cotton farmers produced a record 17,000-plus bales in 2016, which should help alleviate some supply concerns.
“We need more organic farmers in this country to meet our growing organic demand, and the organic sector needs to have the necessary tools to grow and compete on a level playing field,” Batcha said. “That means federal, state and local programs that help support organic research, and provide the organic farmer with a fully equipped tool kit to be successful.”
OTA’s 2017 Organic Industry Survey was conducted from Feb. 2, through March 31. More than 200 companies responded to the survey. The OTA is a membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America, representing 9,500 organic businesses across 50 states.