July 25, 2022

Meet the U.S. Organic Trade Association’s Associate Director of International Trade Programs!

In both Europe and the United States, the popularity of organic food products continues to grow. DelicioUS! recently spoke with Alexis Carey, Associate Director of International Trade Programs for the U.S. Organic Trade Association (OTA). Keep reading to find out more about U.S. organic food products!

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In both Europe and the United States, the popularity of organic food products continues to grow. Both U.S. and European certified organic products are increasingly found on grocery store shelves on both sides of the Atlantic. An equivalency agreement between the European Union and the United States ensures that when you purchase a certified organic product with the EU or U.S. label, the product meets the rigorous production and processing standards set by regulating authorities. 

DelicioUS! recently spoke with Alexis Carey, Associate Director of International Trade Programs for the U.S. Organic Trade Association (OTA). With about 9,500 members from all 50 states, OTA promotes U.S. organic agriculture and trade around the world. Its members represent the whole supply chain, including growers, shippers, processors, farmers, associations, importers, exporters, and retailers.

Read on to find out more about U.S. organic food products! 

What kinds of organic products does the United States export? 

The largest category of U.S. organic exports are fresh fruits and vegetables which make up around 33% of the U.S. organic market. The top five produce items we export are organic apples, lettuce, strawberries, spinach, and grapes. In fact, 15% of all fresh produce sales in the United States are now organic! 

If someone is interested in importing U.S. organic products to the EU, where can they find more info on OTA members?

Our online directory is OTA’s most helpful resource; this is an online business directory that includes all our members. It is a perfect starting point for companies hoping to explore the US market and its offer. Feel free to reach out to if there’s specific companies or items that you are looking for!

Are U.S. organic products the same as EU organic products?

While the United States and the European Union differ on some components of our organic regulations, the two systems are quite similar. An organic equivalency arrangement between the United States and the EU recognizes the two systems as comparable and verifiable. But this does not deem the two necessarily identical. One area where the U.S. differs more significantly is that the country is prohibited from using antibiotics with organic livestock, whereas they are allowed in the EU. 

How do you believe the production of processed organic products is developing in the United States?  

The organic market continues to grow every year in the United States. In 2020, sales of organic products in the United States surpassed $60,000,000 for the first time ever. Organic sales grew 12.8% in 2020 alone. Much of that was fueled by pandemic shopping. All grocery sales rose in 2020, but folks were more conscious of wanting to boost their immune systems and give themselves healthy products. This immense growth period has not shown any signs of slowing down! 

Additionally, lots of large American brands are now offering their own private label, organic products. This is due to growing consumer demand; plus, these private label products are often more price competitive. In short, we are seeing organic products become more accessible.

In your opinion, what are the most exciting new trends in the U.S. organic market?

On a broad scale, we are seeing a lot of products that are organic in addition to another unique quality. Companies are looking at being certified organic as the baseline for consumers, but then also including several other quality attributes such as vegan, gluten-free, kosher, etc. Recent OTA-backed research revealed consumers are looking for at least one quality attribute on a label, which may include the organic seal, vegan, or dairy-free. There is a huge market opportunity for products that have these quality attributes! Particularly, from consumers who are already shopping for organic. These consumers are already thinking a bit more about what is going into their food and what they are putting into their bodies. 

BIOFACH is the world’s leading trade fair for organic products. How are you and your companies preparing for your participation in BIOFACH 2022 which will take place July 26-29 in Nuremberg?

We are so excited to come back to BIOFACH! The Organic Trade Association will host 14 organic companies in the U.S. pavilion. The companies range from organic ready-to-eat beans, vegan barbecue sauce, vegan/gluten-free nut butters, and flavoring products as well.