U.S. Organic Worldwide

International by the numbers

Despite tariffs hitting world markets in 2018, total U.S. organic exports increased 10 percent from 2017 to reach $619 million (all figures U.S. dollars). Canada remains our largest trade partner, importing over $291 million worth of U.S. exports. Mexico finished off 2018 with a total of $108 million in imports of U.S. products, a 19 percent decrease from 2017. However, Mexico exported $317 million worth of organic products to the U.S., up 14 percent.

Our next largest export trading partners—Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom—imported over $115 million worth of U.S. organic goods. According to FiBL and IFOAM, the global market for organic is estimated to have been $97 billion in 2017. Recorded global organic land has reached 172 million acres, with Australia, Argentina, and China recording the biggest shares. Now, 181 countries have organic operations, although organic’s share of total agricultural land is just 1.4 percent. These numbers reflect the 100 import and export codes currently tracked. However, they are not reflective of the entire organic industry.

Trade promotion

It has been a tremendously busy spring for the Organic Trade Association’s international programs. From Germany to Tokyo to Canada and more, the opportunities for U.S. exporters to showcase their products abroad were abundant through the first half of 2019.

Spring activities kicked off with the Organic Trade Association’s annual trip to BioFach, the largest trade fair for organic products in the world, held in Nuremberg, Germany. There, 14 companies exhibited in the USA Pavilion, recording projected sales of over $4.9 million. Out of the 14 participating companies, half were new to BioFach and four were first-time participants in any international program event with the trade association.

The diversity of commodities as well as new and return participants to the booth, were a strong achievement this year as the Organic Trade Association continues to build new companies into its export programming. In conjunction with the exhibitor pavilion, our CEO Laura Batcha spoke at sessions of the BioFach Congress, with topics ranging from the North American organic market to the Organic Trade Association’s Fraud Prevention Program.

In addition, the Organic Trade Association hosted organic pavilions at FoodEx Japan, SIAL Canada, and Seoul Food and Hotel. A total of 18 exhibitors across the three shows reported projected sales of over $5.6 million, with several on-site sales totaling $545,000. These trade events target the largest export destinations for U.S. organic products, and allow U.S. producers to expand into new markets and establish international demand for high quality U.S. organic goods.

In March, our annual Natural Products Expo West Buyers Mission partnership with Food Export yielded another year of fantastic results, with $3.2 million in actual sales on site and $3.9 million in projected sales, a result of over 500 meetings.

This summer, the Organic Trade Association held its first Buyers Mission at Organic Produce Summit in Monterrey, CA (photo at left), in July. The Organic Trade Association hosted a half-dozen international buyers from Mexico and the Pacific Rim countries at the summit. This buyers mission was especially important because Mexico and the Pacific Rim countries are among the U.S.’s largest trading partners for fresh produce. It also gave leading produce retailers in the U.S. the opportunity to meet with buyers from major foreign retailers.

Upcoming 2019 activities

  • The Organic Trade Association is hosting a buyers mission in conjunction with Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore this September. The Organic Trade Association is partnering with Food Export to bring buyers from around the world to meet 1–on–1 with suppliers on September 10–11.
  • Organic Trade Association-hosted U.S. Organic Pavilion at Anuga in Cologne, Germany, October 5-9.
  • Retail promotions in the Middle East, Japan, and Korea.
  • Trade Mission to Korea in November
  • Trade Mission to Dubai in December

Additional funding for trade promotion

The Organic Trade Association has received $580,000 in additional funding for the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP) funded through USDA. ATP is one of three programs that assist agricultural producers facing difficulties due to retaliatory tariffs that hit U.S. markets in 2018. The trade association previously received $547,085 in ATP funding earlier this year, bringing our total award to over $1.1 million. Promotion activities to utilize this funding are planned for the Middle East, Korea, Japan, Canada, the Pacific Rim, and Mexico. Contact Alexis Carey at acarey@ota.com with any questions for more information. //