The U.S. organic industry grew by 9.5 percent overall in 2011 to reach $31.5 billion in sales.

The organic food and beverage sector was valued at $29.22 billion, according to the Organic Trade Association's 2012 Organic Industry Survey.

"The U.S. organic sector continues to show steady and healthy growth, growing overall by 9.5 percent during 2011, and, for the first time, surpassing the $30 billion mark," said Christine Bushway, OTA's executive director and CEO.

Bushway attributes this growth to greater consumer awareness about health and environmental concerns.

"For them, it matters whether foods are genetically engineered, or produced using practices that are good for their families. Price is still an issue, but with the wide availability of private label products and many venues for organic products, they have many choices for where to shop and a variety of products from which to choose," she said.

Overall organic product sales growth of 9.5 percent continued to outpace total sales of comparable conventionally produced food and non-food items, which experienced 4.7 percent growth.

Organic food sales experienced 9.4 percent growth in 2011. The easing of the recession, consumer price inflation due to input price increases, and consumers' increasing desire for convenience products were all factors that elevated growth for the year.

The organic food sector grew by $2.5 billion during 2011, with the fruit and vegetable category contributing close to 50 percent of that growth. The fastest-growing sector was the meat, fish & poultry category, posting 13 percent growth over 2010 sales, but still remaining the smallest of the eight organic food categories.

Organic food sales now represent 4.2 percent of all U.S. food sales, up from 4 percent in 2010.

Organic food sales for 2012 and 2013 are projected to sustain growth levels of 9 percent or higher.

Read more about statistics and trends.

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