QAI makes predictions for organic industry in 2023
Prediction No. 4: Sustainably Organic: Increased focus on companies’ impact on biodiversity, water and soil conservation will translate to additional sustainability metrics in organic practices. As the spirit of organic is to grow in harmony with nature, each farm and company’s environmental impact will be under more scrutiny.
Prediction No. 5: Transparency Made Tangible: Consumers need to know and trust the sourcing of the products they buy will drive total transparency in the organic production chain, and make QR (quick response) codes — already introduced by QAI in July 2012 —commonplace for all organic certificates and on packaging. The USDA Seal for organic will remain credible, and online tools will be used by consumers to see the credibility of each product’s organic claims.
Prediction No. 6: No More Shopping Gaps: Practical steps will be taken to be more inclusive and steps will b taken to include new or emerging industry sectors. This will make organic certification available in sectors currently excluded in the regulations — like aquaculture/seafood. It also will address underserved categories like dietary supplements, pet food, personal care, cleaning supplies, fiber and flowers. If it starts with a plant, mammal or fish, it can be certified organic. Consumers will be able to find certified organic products in all sections of the supermarket and pharmacy.
Prediction No. 7: Organic Literacy is Evident: After years of some confusion in the marketplace, efforts by the NOP, Organic Trade Association, and retailers pay off in increased consumer literacy for organic. Land grant universities also help increase knowledge in organic through their own research initiatives and increase in organic and sustainable agriculture tracks.
Prediction No. 8: Accessible Organic: Larger organic production, from farm acreage expansion to processing facilities, will translate into organic landing where it is most needed: schools, hospitals, food banks, convenience stores and in mainstream America’s home.
These predictions are a drastic shift from the industry environment that was in place in 1989, the year QAI was founded. During this time, there was no federal program for organic in existence and the industry was 100 percent self-regulated. At the time, there were an estimated one dozen organic certification agencies operating in North America, and the USDA reported 5,328 U.S. organic growers with only 2,264 certified.
By 2002, the year USDA organic became federal law, there were an estimated 25 organic certification agencies accredited by USDA, thus giving them legal authority to certify farming, livestock and handling practices in compliance with the newly codified federal regulations for USDA organic. USDA statistics showed 7,323 organic farms with 1,925,534 total acres in organic production. AQI conducted 639 distinct organic certifications in 2002 for customers in 42 states and 11 countries.
As the organic industry enters 2013, the USDA lists 87 accredited certifying agencies, 49 of which are based in the U.S., and a total of 17,281 organic farms and processing facilities in the U.S. certified to USDA organic standards, a 136 percent increase since 2002. USDA’s most recent survey shows organic acreage has grown to 3,648,896 acres, a growth of 89 percent since 2002. The OTA reports current industry sales at $31.5 billion, a 9.5 percent growth rate over the prior year. QAI’s growth mirrors the organic industry’s growth with 1,681 distinct certifications, a 163 percent increase over 2002.