Conference panel forecasts continued growth in demand for organic products

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) held a two-day All Things Organic educational conference late last week at the Natural Products Expo East show in Baltimore, during which industry leaders discussed current and future demand for organic products.

"The next three to five years are going to be mission-critical for what happens in organic 15 years from now," Melissa Hughes, general counsel for organic dairy cooperative Organic Valley and president of the Organic Trade Association's (OTA) Board of Directors, said. "We have to figure out how to meet the needs of organic farmers now so they will be able to meet the needs of the future."

Hughes was part of a panel discussion on the current and future state of organic products. Laura Batcha, OTA's executive director and CEO, moderated the panel, which also included Danielle Nierenberg, founder of Food Tank, and Lynn Clarkson, president of Clarkson Grain.

The panel’s participants said diverse factors will contribute to an increase in the demand for organic products, including growing awareness of the benefits of healthy eating, an increasing desire to know more about the source of food and how it is produced, a generational shift in consumption and buying habits, and heightened concerns about the environmental impacts from large-scale conventional and industrial agriculture.

The U.S. organic sector has experienced steady growth in the past two decades, representing $39.1 billion in sales in 2014, 11 percent more than 2013.

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