Meat & Livestock News

Updates and Challenges in the Organic Food Sector


  • The USDA’s Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule, effective from March 20, 2023, mandates certification for more businesses within the organic supply chain to close loopholes and reduce fraud.
  • Despite challenges, including potential disruptions from non-compliant imports, the organic sector continues to grow, with sales peaking at $61.7 billion in 2022 in the U.S.
  • Key organic ingredients like cocoa and plant-based proteins are in high demand, with sustainability and ethical 

In the ever-evolving landscape of the US organic food and beverage industry, significant changes are on the horizon in 2024. Since the inception of the US Department of Agriculture National Organic Program (NOP) in 2000, the sector has witnessed substantial growth and transformation. This year, the industry is bracing for even more developments, ranging from tighter regulations to an increased appetite for imported goods.

A pivotal move to safeguard the trustworthiness of organic certification for consumers is the implementation of the Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) rule, effective from March 20, 2023. By March 19, 2024, all operations and certifiers must fully adhere to this rule. The SOE aims to eliminate loopholes that previously allowed non-compliant ingredients to infiltrate the organic supply chain, posing a risk of fraud.

A significant change under this rule is the requirement for a broader spectrum of businesses within the organic supply chain, including buyers, sellers, brokers, and traders, to obtain certification. Nate Ensrud from FoodChain ID highlighted the underestimation by many companies regarding their need for certification, emphasising the rule’s impact on the supply chain’s middle layer.

Another area facing potential disruption is the importation of organic products. Unlike the cargo ship backlogs experienced during the pandemic, the challenge now lies in ensuring compliance with organic standards for imports. The SOE mandates organic certificates for all imports, coupled with stringent recordkeeping and traceability requirements. This measure aims to secure the supply of sought-after organic ingredients, despite the complexities involved.

The organic sector’s integrity is crucial for its continued growth. In 2022, organic food and beverage sales in the US peaked at $61.7 billion, despite inflationary pressures. The Organic Trade Association’s Tom Chapman remains optimistic about the sector’s resilience, attributing its strength to consumer investment in personal and environmental health.

Among the most coveted organic ingredients are cocoa and coconut products. The demand for organic cocoa is driven by consumer awareness of the conventional cocoa industry’s environmental and ethical issues, fueling the growth of organic chocolate.

The global organic cocoa market, valued at $8.3 billion in 2022, is projected to reach $11.5 billion by 2032. Similarly, organic plant-based proteins and coconut derivatives are gaining popularity for their clean and simple profiles.

The article also touches on the significance of organic sugars, with coconut sugar standing out for its minimal processing and nutritional benefits. The narrative concludes with insights into the burgeoning market for organic baby and toddler foods, highlighting the industry’s shift towards sustainability and ethical practices.

The US organic food and beverage sector is navigating through a period of stringent regulatory changes and growing consumer demand for ethical and sustainable products. The industry’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of organic certification is pivotal for its future growth and consumer trust.