Jan 12, 2024
USDA gives Organic Trade Association export market boost

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has received more than $1 million from the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) to promote U.S. organic products around the world in 2024.

The $1.05 million consists of $760,633 in new MAP allocations and $285,925 in unused “carryover funds” from previous years. Almost all of the carryover funds date to 2022, when the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic curtailed market development activities and shut down in-person trade shows and events throughout the globe.

Organic Trade Association logo“Global demand for organic just keeps growing,” Sarah Gorman, manager of international trade for OTA, said in a news release. “For more than 20 years, OTA has represented the face of U.S. organic abroad through the Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program. This year, with the generous funding from USDA, we look forward to expanding our activities to untapped markets around the world.”

“Exports help not only organic farmers, they strengthen our economy and rural communities by creating jobs and opportunities across all sectors,” Tom Chapman, OTA co-CEO, said in the release. “Foreign buyers get access to our high-quality products. Everyone wins when we promote American organic globally,” says OTA co-CEO Tom Chapman.

Global demand for U.S. organic continues to strengthen as American exporters introduce new products annually to consumers overseas. USDA statistics show a nearly 20% increase in exports over the past five years. Canada and Mexico remain the primary export destinations for U.S. organic products by a wide margin, though Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates are also strong export markets. Within the last couple of years, China and Vietnam have also edged into the top 10 export destinations for the first time.

The USDA estimates that for each $1 invested in export market development, U.S. agricultural exports have increased by more than $24. The department is providing a total of $174.3 million through MAP for fiscal year 2024 to 68 nonprofit organizations and cooperatives.

2024 activities off to a fast start

OTA will be showcasing American-produced organic products to a wide and diverse global audience this year, from the world’s biggest organic trade fair in Germany to trade missions stretching across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The year gets off to a fast start with Biofach in early February. Taking place in Nuremberg, Germany, it’s the world’s largest trade fair devoted to organic and attracts thousands of international visitors. This year OTA will be hosting its largest organic contingent at Biofach to date, with some 16 sponsored companies showcasing American-produced organic products ranging from cherries and chocolate to dairy products and cooking oils.

In 2023, about 36,000 visitors from 135 countries flocked to Biofach. OTA sponsored 10 companies at the show, and those companies reported amazing success with projected sales of more than $2 million. Almost 150 new foreign buyer contacts were made, as well as more than 100 solid leads for future sales. While the companies were drumming up new business, OTA staff participated in five panels within the Biofach Congress, discussing topics ranging from U.S. market updates to policy initiatives and regulatory changes with the recent passing of USDA’s Strengthening Organic Enforcement regulation.

“Our global activities not only benefit the participating organic brands but provide our staff with critical perspectives and information to help form and advance the association’s international trade development strategy,” Gorman said in the release. “We learn so much by participating in these global events, and with this knowledge, we can better promote American organic around the world.”

The Organic Trade Association is aiming for an even bigger presence in 2024 in the global arena for American organic. OTA-supported activities will again occur all over the world, including new and undeveloped venues. Ranging from international trade shows to social media campaigns, retail promotions and consumer education, more than three dozen organic brands producing a wide array of organic products, including everything from spices and nuts to dairy products and frozen fruits, will participate in OTA’s activities and get exposure to thousands of potential customers.

OTA’s member companies provide the bulk of all U.S. organic exports. The market promotion activities administered by the association are open to the entire organic industry, however, not just members. For more information or to sign up for activities, visit OTA’s website.

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