The People Have Spoken, And They Want Organic Produce -- Here's How Farmers Will Make It Happen

Do you shop organic?

Even if your answer is no, consumer desire for organic and non genetically modified foods is at an all-time high right now — in fact, the desire and demand for these crops actually outstrips many farmers’ supply, resulting in many farms scrambling to convert their land to produce organic crops.

The problem? Converting land to organic production takes time, and a lot of money.

“Customers are asking for it,” Wendell Naraghi, a farmer who is currently transitioning 300 of his 3,000 acres of orchards this year, told The New York Times. “And we listen to our customers.”

Kellogg, General Mills, and Ardent Mills are among many major food brands that have signed deals to help convert acres of farmland to fields conducive to organic production and animal feeds. 

“Some of our big flour customers were coming to us and asking what they could do,” said Shrene White, director of specialty grains at Ardent Mills. “They had concerns about not having enough organic flour to back up new products as they expand their presence in organics.”

“We’re seeing more land than ever before going through transition, both among new growers and existing organic operations looking to expand their production,” added Kelly Damewood, policy director at CCOF, a large organic certification organization.

Because consumer demand for organic actually exceeds the supply, the conversion process has accelerated; organic product sales saw an 11% rise last year, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), accruing a new annual record of $43.3 billion.

That being said, it remains unseen whether or not the move toward organic farming — which means an increase in available organic products — will result in a price increase of said food. Consumer Reports noted in 2015 that the price of organic products is on average 47% higher than their non-organic counterparts (keeping in mind that the average was skewed by organic meats, which are often two times as expensive as conventional meats).

“Almost every consumer today says she wants organic,” said John Foraker, president of Annie’s. “But the reason she’s not buying it is the price.”