Organic growth 2020: more certified acres and operations, record harvests of organic crops
More land and operations have converted to USDA certified organic production in 2020, expanding the footprint of organics within U.S. agriculture, according to the newly released Mercaris Commodity Outlook for 2020/21.
The report continues the good news for the U.S. organic farming and food sector despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Sales of organic food and produce have been strong as more consumers seek out healthier food options.
“The role of organic in U.S. agriculture continues to expand, bolstered by growing consumer preferences and challenging markets for conventionally grown commodities,” said Ryan Koory, director of economics for Mercaris. “And 2020 appears to be a clear reflection of this, as many crops are projected to see harvested acres reach record levels this year.”
In total, Mercaris estimates U.S. harvested organic field crop area will exceed 3.4 million acres over the 2020/21 marketing year (MY), up 4% year over year (y/y). In addition to more harvested acres, the 2020/21 yield outlook for many key U.S. organic crops is expected to rebound following 2019/20’s dismal planting and harvest weather conditions.
With larger U.S. organic commodity supplies on the horizon, growth in organic livestock production and feed demand will be critical over 2020/21. Following the rapid global spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, supply chains, trade partners, and U.S. households found themselves in an unpredictable new world.
Despite this, U.S. organic consumer demand appears to have held up over 2019/20, with both organic broiler and turkey meat production achieving y/y growth.
“The expansion in organic turkey production this year has been nothing short of phenomenal. We estimate the daily rate of organic turkey slaughter jumped 147% over the past year. From 5,600 head per day over August 2019, to 13,800 head per day over August 2020. Maintaining Augusts’ slaughter rate alone is enough to significantly expand total organic turkey slaughter over 2020/21” said Koory.
Furthermore, Mercaris anticipates that U.S. consumer markets for organic protein will continue to expand in the 2020/21 MY; however this outlook is largely dependent on the strength of the U.S. economy and consumer demand over the year to come.
Additional findings from Mercaris Commodity Outlook include:
- Mercaris estimates the number of certified organic operations in the U.S. will reach 19,888 over 2020/21, a 4% increase y/y.
- Organic corn livestock feed use is projected to increase 6% y/y over the 2020/21 MY as organic poultry production continues to boost demand for U.S. organic grain feed.
- U.S. organic soybean crush is projected to increase 13% y/y over 2020/21 as organic soybean meal imports plateau, and livestock feed demand continues to expand.
- U.S. non-GMO soybean planted area expanded 19% y/y over 2020.
- U.S. non-GMO corn planted area increased 8% y/y over 2020.
The outlook includes additional data and commentary on expected yields, use, prices and more for organic commodities, as well as U.S. non-GMO acreage. For more information and to purchase a copy of the outlook, visit Mercaris.
For information about COVID-19-related risks to organic markets, a free Mercaris special report is also available here.