The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for the organic industry in North America. Focusing exclusively on organic agriculture and its products, OTA stays on top of the issues that affect organic trade and proactively takes action as necessary on behalf of its members, connecting them to market trends and industry news, regulatory and legislative advocacy, and consumer education, marketing and public relations resources.
OTA’s mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy. Our mission sets the stage for work on behalf of the diverse organic business community we serve. OTA represents businesses across the organic supply chain starting with the farmer and addresses all things organic, including food, fiber and textiles, personal care and pet products, and new sectors as they develop.
Since its inception in 1985, OTA has been a key player in shaping both the regulatory and market environment for organic products. OTA works industriously to develop markets for organic products, protect the integrity of organic standards, and foster consumer confidence in the organic label.
Advocacy in D.C.
To augment its New England headquarters, OTA in 2010 opened a new office in the heart of Washington, D.C., where the association can effectively advance the government relations and public policy objectives of the organic industry.
This new office positions OTA to address the ever-increasing regulatory and congressional issues that affect the organic industry. Housed in the landmark Hall of The States building, OTA’s D.C. office is located within sight of the Capitol and minutes from the White House, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and all regulatory agencies and embassies that we regularly interact with. Equally important, we now have the ability to facilitate and initiate stakeholder meetings and collaborate more closely on coalition-building efforts.
OTA also helps link the North American organic industry to developing markets around the world. We create new opportunities for U.S. and Canadian organic products through international promotions, exporter education, business to business connections, and trade negotiations. In fact, OTA is responsible for managing USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service’s Organic Export Program, conducting such activities as setting up U.S. organic pavilions at international trade shows, and bringing in reverse trade delegations to the United States.
The Organic Market
An important part of OTA’s mission centers around helping consumers understand what is organic and why they can trust the organic label. As a result, OTA developed Organic. It's Worth It. (www.OrganicItsWorthIt.org) a ground-breaking consumer marketing and education campaign and web site. OTA recently extended that campaign to include an Organic. It’s Worth It In Schools. initiative and a Savvy Organic Shopper blog (http://www.organicitsworthit.org/blog).
Historically, consumer demand has driven the growth of the organic sector. Consumers have shown continued resilience in seeking out organic foods, beverages and non-food items such as organic textiles, personal care products and pet foods. Results from OTA’s 2010 Organic Industry Survey show that U.S. organic product sales in 2009 reached $26.6 billion, including $24.8 billion in organic food sales and $1.8 billion in organic non-food sales. The leading food category for growth during 2009 was that of fruits and vegetables, which now represent 38 percent of all U.S. organic food sales.
Consumers are increasingly interested in where their food comes from and how it is produced. With organic, they have that assurance. In fact, U.S. families are buying more organic products than ever before and from a wider variety of categories, according to findings from OTA’s U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes & Beliefs 2010 tracking study. Forty one percent of parents report they are buying more organic foods now than a year ago, up significantly from 31 percent reporting increased organic purchases in 2009.
Looking forward, OTA believes that its important work will continue to advance organic agriculture and trade to new levels in the years to come.