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Despite the arrival of the new Omicron variant in the continuing Covid-19 saga, America’s Organic Trade Association (OTA) – a major voice for the organic trade in the country – has put international trade back on its agenda in a big way after a large government award.

The group – which representing over 9,500 organic agriculture and end-products businesses across 50 American states – has picked up just over $900,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Market Access Program. Part of it will be used to revive the association’s in-person activity at trade fairs around the world in 2022, including SIAL in Paris, the largest food and beverage show in the world.

Global on-location exhibitions targeted

Many trade events globally have been held online in the past 18 months, but the OTA says it is now “gearing up for a busy 2022 calendar of in-person events and opportunities to show off US organic products abroad”.

OTA says it is Americas’s only organic-focused trade association and in its own words claims to be the USDA’s “go-to partner for promoting organic products internationally for nearly 20 years”. This year’s USDA award – the largest that OTA has received to date – will support the group’s international promotions efforts.

SIAL is a big focus for OTA next year.

OTA’s associate director of international trade Alexis Carey, said in a statement: “Just as venues are reopening their doors to in-person events, the global economy is reopening to more robust trade opportunities. There’s overwhelming global demand for organic products, and we look forward to helping connect US-based producers with customers worldwide.”

According to tracking data from the USDA, the value of US organic exports nearly doubled between 2011 and 2019 – increasing from just over $400 million in 2011 to nearly $700 million in 2019 thanks to increasing global interest in eating more healthily and the general trend for wellness. The pandemic has spurred the interest in organic foods that could help with immunity and fighting infections.

Canada and Mexico are America’s largest export partners, with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the European Union, and United Arab Emirates all making the top 10 list for US organic exports. While America itself remains the biggest market for organic food with a 42% share of the world market, France and Germany have 11% each, based on retail sales of organic food. Other important markets include China (8%), and Italy, Canada, UK,, and Switzerland with 3% each (see below).

America organic leader
The US dominates the global organic food market but other big players exist.

OTA will leverage its new USDA funding to increasing consumer awareness of products from its US members, thoough there are opportunities for non-members too. The association will also explain the link between better balanced agricultural production and minimising climate change. OTA says that “US organic stands out as the gold standard of sustainable production”.

Dates for the diary

So far, the calendar that OTA has released for its promotional events in 2022 include three major international shows outside America:

  • Biofach in Nuremburg, Germany, the world’s largest trade fair for organic food taking place in February alongside the Biofach Congress.
  • Food and Hotel Asia in Singapore, a new trade show for OTA taking place in September. The US exported over $5 million worth of organic products to Singapore in 2020.
  • SIAL in Paris, France. The largest food and beverage event in the world, providing unparalleled opportunities to connect key retailers and distributors globally. The mega-event will take place from 15-19 October, 2022.

OTA will also host a series of consumer promotion projects across Asia and the Middle East geared toward importers, distributors, and consumers. OTA’s member companies provides the bulk of all American organic exports but the association says that its market promotion activities “are open to the entire organic industry, not just members”.

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