The organic food and fertilizer markets have been growing dramatically in North America and worldwide over the last 10 years. According to the US Organic Trade Association's 2010 Organic Industry Survey, U.S. sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $24.8 billion in 2009. Sales in 2009 represented 5.1 percent growth over 2008 sales. Experiencing the highest growth in sales during 2009 were organic fruits and vegetables, up 11.4 percent over 2008 sales. Total U.S. organic sales, including food and non-food products, were $26.6 billion in 2009, up 5.3 percent from 2008.
The impact of the demand for organic products at the consumer level drives the demand for farmers and producers to convert their land to organic operations, which in turn drives the overall market for organic fertilizers. Certified organic acreage in the United States reached more than 4.8 million acres in 2008, according to updated data posted by USDA. U.S. total organic cropland reached 2,655,382 acres in 2008, while land devoted to organic pasture totaled 2,160,577 acres. Certified organic cropland acreage between 2002 and 2008 averaged 15 percent annual growth. However, it still only represented about 0.7 percent of all U.S. cropland, while certified organic pasture only represented 0.5 percent of all U.S. pasture in 2008. Overall, certified organic cropland and pasture accounted for about 0.6 percent of U.S. total farmland in 2008. Therefore, there is significant growth potential for this rapidly expanding market.
On the global front, acreage managed organically in 2008 in the world totaled 35 million hectares farmed by almost 1.4 million producers in 154 countries, according to data from The World of Organic Agriculture 2010. Organic agricultural land area increased in all regions, and was up nearly three million hectares, or nine percent, compared to 2007 data. Meanwhile, according to Organic Monitor estimates, global organic sales reached $50.9 billion in 2008, double the $25 billion recorded in 2003.
The organic fertilizer industry is a growing sector responding to the increasing consumer concerns about nutritional health and environmental sustainability. Organic fertilizers provide the following key benefits:
- Slowly release nutrients with multiple year benefits
- Wide spectrum of primary, secondary and trace elements
- No toxins cumulating in soil
- Sources are renewable and natural materials
- Safe for human and animal exposure
- No pollution of watershed from nutrient leaching
- Sustain soil life by adding organic matter
- Accelerate remediation of contaminated soil
- Reduced greenhouse gas impact compared to chemical fertilizers that are made from fossil fuels