Just how big is the organic industry? Well, how’s this for a pesticide-free wow: Target is expected to double its organic and sustainable offerings in its more than 1,600 stores.
The second-largest discount retail giant in the U.S. says that over the course of the year, it will nearly double its selection of items under the Made to Matter label, which it launched nearly a year ago to meet growing consumer demand for cleaner, healthier products.
According to the Associated Press, Made to Matter is an exclusive Target collection of 16 brands and over 100 individual products “unveiled last year ranging from bleach-free diapers to nonaerosol air fresheners.” Target putting a focus on those items is already pretty impressive. But now, the chain appears to be introducing more than 200 additional products from 31 brands that meet its sustainable and organic requirements because that’s what consumers want.
And there’s even more to be excited about. According to the AP: “Company officials believe sales for the brands included in the program could hit $1 billion this year, and if this initiative were a stand-alone brand, it would already be one of the company’s 10 largest labels, according to Kathee Tesija, executive vice president and chief merchandising and supply chain officer.”
Organic Industry Growth Continues
Target’s shift towards more organic offerings mirrors strong growth across the organic category, which generated more than $40 billion in sales in the U.S. in 2014, and more than $60 billion worldwide.
Over the last three decades, the organic products industry has grown by a stunning 3,400 percent, according to Food Safety News, making it the fastest-growing food and lifestyle trend in modern history.
The trend towards healthier options, though, doesn’t stop there. “When expanded to the so-called ‘natural products,’ the organic industry’s sales reached $290 billion last year in the U.S. alone,” Food Safety News explains.
While the so-called “natural” category that lacks any regulations is still quite contentious (and has led to quite a few lawsuits over misleading label claims), retailers like Target and Walmart are expanding into cleaner products, even if they don’t boast organic certification. This includes products like eco-friendly laundry detergents, dish soaps and personal care products free from phthalates and parabens. The majority of these products aren’t tested on animals, either, which is also a significant consideration for the conscious consumer.
But it’s really organic that’s propelling this shift towards cleaner food and lifestyle products. Fresh fruits and vegetables continue to drive the organic industry growth, even though companies like Target and competitor Walmart offer a wider selection of packaged organic foods than fresh. The USDA reports that organic fruits and vegetables now make up more than 10 percent of total U.S. cropland, and that number is growing. And recent research confirmed that people who consume more organic fruits and vegetables had lower levels of pesticides and herbicides in their bodies.
According to a 2012 survey, 81 percent of American families say they purchase organic products at least sometimes. But with Target and other retailers expanding their offerings, maybe that number will soon be 100 percent.
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