According to the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) 2016 Organic Industry Survey, 2015 was a record-breaking year for the U.S. organic industry. As its largest annual dollar gain ever, total organic product sales hit US$43.3 billion in 2015, up 11 percent from 2014 sales.

The number of consumers choosing to purchase organic products over their conventional counterparts is rapidly expanding for a variety of reasons. Some eaters are concerned about the environmental impacts associated with conventional methods of agricultural production, while others worry there could be health implications related to pesticide use and genetically modified organisms. And, some consumers choose organic because they believe it to be the healthiest option. Whatever the reason, consumer demand for organic products has been growing by double digits each year since the 1990s, and a recent Consumers Report survey showed that 84 percent of American consumers would purchase an organic product over the same conventional product.

The unfettered growth of the organic market has been constrained by supply chain challenges, as U.S. agricultural production cannot meet the ever-growing demand for organic products. According to a State of the Industry Report by the OTA, organic sales account for almost five percent of the total food market, yet less than one percent of U.S. cropland is used for organic agriculture. More growers must transition to organic production in order to meet the growing consumer demand, but face significant financial challenges in doing so.