Growth projected in U.S. organic acreage
An industry survey says the footprint of organic crop production is expanding. The study, by the organic data firm Mercaris, estimates U.S. organic crop acreage will exceed 3.4 million this marketing year, a four percent jump from last year. Total organic acreage, including pastures and rangeland, is about 8.5 million, an increase of three percent. Part of the reason behind that increase is because consumers want food with some kind of extra value, according to Ryan Koory, Director of Economics for Mercaris.
“What the consumer preference tends to be shifting towards is people consuming food that has other benefits, whether they’re ecological or social or what have you,” said Koory, during an interview with Brownfield Ag News, “and organic hits those boxes.”
There is also some impact from the COVID pandemic. Some of the growth in organic production can be attributed to people eating more at-home meals. There are more organic purchases at grocery stores than at restaurants, he said.
“So with increased consumers demand through the grocery store space, on top of the fact that this was a trend that was already emerging, we’ve seen growth in organic consumer demand,” said Koory.
The Mercaris projections include growing demand for organic feed crops because of increases in organic poultry production.