United States Department of Agriculture
The organic foods industry has been growing at a remarkable rate during the past several years. Sales of organic commodities in natural foods stores approached $3.3 billion in 1998, compared with $2.08 billion in 1995, according to industry sources. A unique aspect of the organic market is that it does not rely solely on economic factors to differentiate its products. Buyers of organic food products, both businesses and consumers, make purchasing decisions by considering not only price and quality, but also the perceived social and environmental benefits that organic production represents. Buyers expect that the organic characteristics for which they pay premium prices will be preserved as the commodity moves along the marketing chain.