Los Angeles, CA – If Taka Yamaguchi has his way, athletes competing in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be eating organic.
Yamaguchi shared his ambitious plan at a recent Organic Trade Association (OTA) sponsored seminar in Japan attended by more than 100 of Japan’s top grocery retailers, food importers and distributors.
Yamaguchi, executive officer of Organic Japan, was part of a roster of agricultural, organic and food industry experts and policy officials taking part in two OTA programs that brought industry and government leaders together in Tokyo and Osaka to learn about U.S. organic products and familiarize themselves with the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal they feel could help feed the country’s growing appetite for organic.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDOA), U.S. exports to Japan alone are currently estimated at $80 million annually with growth expected to reach at least $250 million within the next decade.
With a grant of more than $700,000 from the USDOA’s Market Access Program, OTA, she said, “is gearing up a far-reaching strategy for next year that will include more organic promotional and education programs in Japan and around the globe.”
Exports “are increasingly important to U.S. producers and handlers. The organic industry is invested in building the relationships and U.S. organic brand awareness required for long-term export growth,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of OTA.
OTA, she said, “will be showcasing the American organic brand in the largest food shows in the world, conducting international seminars on organic regulatory issues, hosting trade missions to connect foreign buyers and domestic suppliers, and helping retailers in the world’s biggest markets sell the value of organic foods.”
The organization plans to follow up its recent success with a repeat in November 2015, when OTA will return to Japan and conduct targeted promotion of organic products to consumers and continue to build relationships, according to Batcha.
In addition to Japan, the organization will attend major “organic-themed” events in Cologne and Nuremburg, Germany; Seoul, Korea; and Anaheim, California.
Demand for organic in the U.S. has grown significantly with organic sales in 2013 hitting a new record of $35.1 billion, while U.S. organic exports in 2013 reached a new high of $537 million, up more than 20 percent from the previous year.
The Washington, D.C.-headquartered Organic Trade Association (OTA) represents more than 6,500 organic businesses across 49 states. Its membership includes growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others.