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Organic Prices

Related Topics

Documentation

Data Sources

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has been expanding organic price reporting for over a decade, and now covers most commodity sectors. AMS Market News reports contain wholesale or first receiver prices on a daily, weekly or bi-weekly basis, and some reports also show weekly advertised sale prices on supermarket specials. Current reports are always available on the Market News website. ERS historical tables are based on Market News and other sources of data, and show monthly and annual prices over a period of years for major commodities. These tables are useful for examining price trends over time, as well as for comparing organic and conventional prices.   

Wholesale Prices—Fruits and Vegetables

USDA-AMS Market News reports wholesale fruit and vegetable prices from terminal markets in 15 U.S. cities, including Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle, and San Francisco. AMS Fruit and Vegetable Market News began sporadic coverage of organic products in the 1990s, and coverage has expanded substantially since then. Reported prices reflect transactions by wholesalers for sales of less than a carload or truckload and for products that are of good quality and condition, unless otherwise noted. ERS historical tables contain monthly wholesale price averages for 20 major organic fruits (2010-13) and vegetables (2012-13) in the Atlanta and San Francisco markets (which had the most consistent price reporting). Conventional wholesale prices are for produce items that correspond to the same commodity, variety, package, size, and grade as their organic counterparts. ERS archived tables show prices in the Boston and San Francisco markets (which had the most consistent reporting prior to 2010.

Daily or weekly prices on hundreds of fruits and vegetables—as well as tools that permit customized access to current and historical prices—are available through the USDA-AMS Market News Portal.   

First Receiver Prices—Poultry and Eggs

In January 2004, AMS Market News began a weekly national organic poultry and eggs report. These reports track prices paid to poultry or egg companies by the first receiver (or that entity that purchases the product from the companies, such as a retailer, distributor, or manufacturer). Prices include all types of transactions, including contract and spot market. ERS historical tables show monthly organic wholesale price averages for broilers and eggs, 2004-13. ERS archived tables show monthly organic and conventional wholesale price averages for broilers and eggs, 2004-08. Conventional price data for eggs and poultry are also obtained from AMS Market News and represent the price paid by the first receiver to the poultry or egg companies.

Weekly USDA Certified Organic Poultry and Eggs reports (in PDF), 2011-14, are available through the Market News website. 

Wholesale Prices—Grains and Feedstuffs

In 2007, AMS Market News began regional bi-weekly organic price reporting for organic grain and feedstuffs in the Upper Midwest and Corn Belt. In January 2012, AMS discontinued the regional reports, and began publishing a single national grain and feedstuffs report. These reports show prices that are free on board (f.o.b.) (price at place of origin, not including transportation charges) and negotiated spot market (price of a commodity available for immediate delivery). ERS historical tables show national monthly grain and feedstuffs prices for 2011-13. ERS archived tables show monthly grain and feedstuffs prices for 2008-11 in the Upper Midwest and Corn Belt.

The USDA-AMS National Organic Grain and Feedstuffs Bi-Weekly report is available through the Market News website. 

Sales Volume—Organic Milk

USDA-AMS uses Federal Milk Marketing Order data to calculate the consumption of fluid milk products in Federal milk order marketing areas and California (which represents approximately 92 percent of total fluid milk sales in the U.S.).  An estimate of total U.S. fluid milk sales is derived by interpolating the remaining 8 percent of sales from the Federal milk order and California data. In 2006, AMS began breaking out the volume of fluid milk sales for organic products. The ERS historical table shows the volume of monthly organic and total U.S. fluid milk sales for 2006-13.

Current estimated U.S. sales of organic and total fluid milk products are available through the USDA-AMS website, http://www.ams.usda.gov (see Marketing Orders and Agreements/Milk Marketing Orders).

Retail Prices—Selected Products

ERS has conducted several studies of organic consumers using Nielsen Homescan data, which are retail scanner data scanned at home by a nationally representative panel of consumers. These studies used samples of Nielsen Homescan data for the early and mid-2000s containing more than 8,000 households purchasing produce; households reported their purchases of produce sold as random weight or with the Uniform Product Code (UPC) at retail outlets for home consumption.

ERS tables show monthly organic and conventional retail prices, 2004-07, for select organic packaged goods that carry a UPC code. The products selected are representative of the wide range of organic products available to U.S. consumers: milk, eggs, rice, carrots, salad mix, spinach, and strawberries.

Farm-gate Prices—Selected Vegetables

ERS archived tables show organic farm-gate prices for fruits and vegetables, 1999-2007, which were obtained from a proprietary data source, Organic Food Business News (OFBN). OFBN gathered the data from a weekly nationwide survey of farmers, buyers, traders, and shippers, and provided regular information on price levels for a variety of organic crops over a long period of time. However, the quality of the data was difficult to evaluate for consistency and accuracy, and are no longer collected. The ERS archived tables also show conventional farm-gate prices, which are U.S. monthly f.o.b. shipping-point prices from USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (as reported in ERS's Vegetables and Melons Yearbook).

Why This Information Is Important

Understanding trends in price premiums can provide insight into relative changes in the demand and supply of organic products, and help indicate the maturity of markets, as well as whether the dramatic growth in organic agriculture is likely to continue.

Last updated: Friday, March 21, 2014

For more information contact: Catherine Greene