The Walmartification Of The Organic Food Industry

There was a time in the ‘not so distant’ past, when organic food was just a teeny tiny sliver of the entire food consumption pie. Organic products were bought and sold primarily by hippies and health nuts. Not any more. In fact, since 1990, organic food sales in the United States and Canada have been growing at approximately 20% per year. In 2006, sales of organic food in the United States and Canada topped $18 billion.¬†Numbers these large were enough to catch the attention of the mainstream agri-business industry. As a result, a growing percentage of the new growth in organic food sales is being driven by mainstream supermarkets.¬†In 1998, organic food sales in supermarkets were half the size of the sales in natural food stores. However, by 2006, supermarket sales had grown to be neck and neck with the natural food stores.

organicsales98 06 The Walmartification Of The Organic Food Industry

click to expand the image

Even as food prices keep rising year after year, the demand for organics keeps rising faster than non-organics year after year, resulting in….

  • the expansion of existing organic food companies – both public and private,
  • the introduction of thousands of new raw & process organic food products,
  • takeovers (and mergers) of small organic independents by large food producers/retailers,
  • the introduction and expansion of private label organic brands by the large food producers/retailers,

Next pageAnimation of the Organic Food Industry and How it Has Changed – 1995-2007

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Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.

13 Comments

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  2. Dynamic Microphone

    November 17, 2010 at 11:40 am

    organic foods are the best for our health since they are free from dangerous chemicals and toxins ..`

    • Paleo blogger

      January 10, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      Yea I agree they have good prices but not so awesome variety organics

  3. Kenzie

    August 29, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Walmart could be my first choice for organic foods, but they don’t carry enough variety. I think it’s nice that they have pretty low prices on their selection, but it isn’t diverse enough. They could make a lot more money if they A. Hired more people to check you out, and B. had a better selection of organic foods. Kudos.
    -Kenzie
    Propane Burners

  4. vitamin high

    June 10, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    thanks for the very informative post on orangic food. i don’t shop at walmart and are they really starting to sell organic food? wow.. but still doesn’t change my mind about going there though. lol.

  5. Patricia Libertini

    May 23, 2010 at 4:41 am

    Great charts on this page, thanks for sharing.

    To your point, additionally, some of the larger players are doing organic “lite”, delivering against the minimum requirements for organic.

    In Denmark, I believe they have digital disclosure, whereby all the information about the grower is on the barcode. If this were rigorously applied, it might help. But you could see the major player still lobbying in the background against this, or the labeling standards being compromised.

    I have an innate mistrust of the big industry players in organic food, and
    I try to support local organic farms, small players who I know face to face at the London markets.

    Patricia Libertini

  6. healthhabits

    November 13, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    .

  7. gale bailey

    August 25, 2009 at 11:00 am

    fabulous, important information. Thank you for the effort and intelligence. Time to get real with what we are putting in our mouths – it’s buyer beware and now we know why, who, where and how much.

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  9. Acai Berry Detox

    August 24, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    I’m always into discussions on anything organic, so this read made me feel at home.
    I’ll bookmark the site and subscribe to the feed!

  10. lucas

    May 3, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    hey thanks for the link. you put together all that info much better than i did. i just thought the graphic i posted was helpful. nice work. jesus would be proud ;-)

  11. DR

    April 30, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    My concern is that big companies like Clorox -

    http://www.clorox.com/products/overview.php?prod_id=gwhttp://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/eeffe922a687433c85257359003f5340/c803f5a433567467852573b4006b2dbc!OpenDocument

    or Nestle http://www.sustainableindustries.com/breakingnews/7192496.html
    http://www.cspinet.org/new/200702011.html will attempt to “greenwash” their public image.

    Bread = bad, Organic bread = good
    Bleach = bad, Green cleaners = good

    good = $$$

  12. McBloggenstein

    April 30, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Walmart….. yup. On one hand, it’s bringing to the forefront the need for more organic farming practices to happen. That we’re way over-doing it with the pesticides and the factory farms.

    The problem is, as with anything sold at Walmart, is that they drive down the prices so low, that no one will make a profit except Walmart. Especially not family farms. Especially not any of the middle men. Ultimately, the quality of the product gets degraded too much.

    Have you read “The Walmart Effect”? I recommend.

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