The U.S. and Canada have reached a first-of-its-kind agreement that will expand market opportunities for organic producers. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan announced the equivalency agreement at the All Things Organic Trade Show and Conference. USDA says the agreement follows a review by both nations of the other's organic certification program and a determination that products meeting the standard in the U.S. can be sold as organic in Canada and vice versa. Merrigan called the agreement an important first step towards global harmonization of organic standards.
Canada is the largest U.S. trade partner and largest estimated export market for U.S. organic products. The USDA Foreign Ag Service office in Ottawa estimates more than 80% of Canada's organic consumption comes from imports with about 75% of those coming from the U.S. It's estimated the total market for organic products in Canada is between $2.1 and $2.6 billion.
U.S. organic production has more than doubled since the late 90s. The consumer market has grown even faster with organic food sales increasing from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $24.6 billion in 2008. The Organic Trade Association says more than two-thirds of American consumers buy organic products at least occasionally while 28% buy weekly.