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U.S. organic perspectives play intricate part at world’s largest organic trade fair

Organic Trade Association facilitates international trade opportunities for U.S. organic companies

Maggie McNeil
(202) 403-8514
(202) 615-7997
Washington , DC
March 2, 2017
) — 
Organic agriculture worldwide continues to set new records, with global sales reaching more than 80 billion U.S. dollars a year and the United States still leading as the largest organic market, attendees learned at BioFach 2017, the latest iteration of the largest organic trade fair for food in the world held in February in Nuremberg, Germany.
BioFach drew a record number of visitors this year, reflecting the excitement and opportunities surrounding organic globally. For the Organic Trade Association's (OTA's) international effort, this was an event to highlight the important role U.S. organic leadership and experts play in global organic sector growth and collaboration.
"Sharing our experience and lessons learned in the U.S. organic industry internationally has never been more important. Organic is growing everywhere, and many people are eager to learn about the largest market in the world," reports Monique Marez, OTA's International Trade Director, who leads the USA Organic Worldwide program.
And, she adds, "At the same time, trade opportunities for U.S. organic businesses continue to flourish as more international buyers want the USDA Organic seal represented in their market."
In its highest level of activity ever at the annual trade fair and accompanying activities, the U.S. Organic Worldwide team took part in five sessions at the congress. A session giving a Global Organic Market Overview hosted by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and IFOAM – Organics International generated much interest. The dynamic session included three panelists summarizing organic trends: OTA's Monique Marez, Dr. Helga Willer of FiBL, and Xiandong Zhang of Organic and Beyond Corporation from China. The information provided reflected a sampling of the statistics and trends included in The World of Organic Agriculture 2017 released by FiBL and IFOAM-Organics International in conjunction with the trade fair.
In addition, in a first, The Organic Center collaborated with FiBL to present recent organic scientific research updates, from on-farm solutions to nutritional aspects of organic. Speaking on behalf of The Organic Center, OTA's Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs Gwendolyn Wyard reported on research findings tracked by The Center to a standing room only audience, while Christian Andres of FiBL based in Switzerland presented study findings on European organic research.
Also generating much excitement was a session entitled "Growing the Organic Reach: Developments in Diversifying the Organic Supply Chain and the Organic Story." Partnering with OTA in this session were Eric Newman of Organic Valley and blogger Leah Segedie of Mamavation.
"Organic Valley's participation in BioFach is essential as members of the global organic community and the organic movement.  BioFach is the ideal venue for us to collaborate with like-minded farmers, governmental agencies, industry partners and customers. We learn from our interactions with the global organic industry and add to the discussions by sharing our best practices and marketing insights," said Eric Newman, Vice President of Sales. "BioFach is always the highlight of our trade events participation, and the vibrancy of the industry shows itself in the diversity and quality of the participants and organic food."
Added blogger Leah Segedie, "I was proud to inspire attendees from other countries to take a more active role in social media. Companies and organizations in the United States have excelled at using social media as a force for positive change by partnering with influencers, non-profits, and being available online through social channels. There is so much we can learn from each other."
Other sessions focused on EU-U.S. Organic Trade: Challenges and Opportunities after Five Years of Organic Equivalency and one centering on German state action plans for organic industry support and growth.  In the latter, OTA's Marez was invited to share OTA's organic hotspots research showing how organic agriculture can help communities thrive, raising economic markers and creating real opportunities in rural areas.
In addition, OTA hosted 13 U.S. supplier companies at BioFach, with organic products ranging from maple syrup to beans and grains, nuts and nut butters to tomato products, frozen food (poultry, meals) to soup, rice cakes to sprouted flours, and vanilla to condiments. For Vivaness—the co-located International Trade Fair for Natural Personal Care, OTA hosted four U.S. supplier participants, with organic products ranging from lip balm to hair and sun care, and personal care products to facial care.
First time exhibitor Amit Haryani, co-owner of based in New Jersey, reported there was much interest in company's organic nut and nut butter products. "We made connections with four retail chain buyers, and over ten distributors from over ten different countries," he said, adding, "We anticipate potential sales to be around $250,000 even if manages just two new accounts from the show."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA') Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Market Access Program (MAP) makes such U.S. international trade activities possible. For 2017, USDA has allocated a total of $845,946 in MAP funding to the Organic Trade Association for international trade activities. In 2016, MAP funding led to more than $48 million in projected sales for U.S. companies participating in OTA organized trade opportunities.
Since the mid-1990s, OTA has worked to help promote organic agricultural products in global markets and to connect buyers and sellers. OTA has been an official cooperator in USDA's Market Access Program since 1999. OTA's membership represents about 85 percent of U.S. organic exports. The market promotion activities administered by OTA are open to the entire organic industry.
In March, in addition to hosting buyers from around the world who will meet with U.S. organic companies in conjunction with Natural Products Expo West, OTA's offshore international effort will feature a presence at FoodEx Japan. There, for the first time ever, there will be a keynote speech on U.S. and Japan organic efforts.
OTA also is now working on hosting and planning the Inter-American Commission for Organic Agriculture (ICOA) annual meeting in Portland, OR, in July. Founded in 2008, ICOA supports organic agriculture in the Americas and facilitates the trade of organic products. Consisting of agriculture officials from 18 member countries in Latin America, it aims to harmonize organic standards, strengthen control systems and support market development in Latin America. The United States sources many organic products from this region, including bananas, apples, pears, wine, strawberries, blueberries, coffee, mangoes, papayas, winter vegetables, and more.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. OTA is the leading voice for the organic trade in the United States, representing over 9,500 organic businesses across 50 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA's Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA's mission is to promote and protect ORGANIC with a unifying voice that serves and engages its diverse members from farm to marketplace. 

The Organic Trade Association does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation or marital/family status. Persons with disabilities, who require alternative means for communication of program information, should contact us.