A landmark study on the trade flow of organic food products across the borders of the United States reveals that a robust global appetite for organic food has created new lucrative markets from Mexico City all the way to Hong Kong for U.S. organic producers—but also provides strong evidence that American farmers are losing out on some valuable opportunities by not growing more organic.
According to the study conducted by Pennsylvania State University's Dr. Edward Jaenicke, associate professor of agricultural economics, released April 15 by the Organic Trade Association (OTA), exports of U.S. organic foods as well as imports of organic into the U.S. have risen significantly in the past few years. In 2014, American organic growers sold more than $550 million worth of products tracked by the U.S. government through organic export codes to buyers around the world, with the United States rightly claiming the position of global supplier for fresh organic produce.
Imports of organic products outpaced exports, amounting to nearly $1.3 billion in 2014. The import picture tells two stories: one of an increasing appetite by Americans for organic foods not widely produced in this country, like coffee, bananas, mangoes, olive oil, to name a few, and the second story of a growing domestic market for organic feed grains but insufficient home-grown organic crops to meet that demand.