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The US healthy foods market is being hit by the recession, despite sales rising 1.8 % to reach US$142 billion (NZ$215 billion), according to the NutraIngredients.com.

Citing the Nutrition Business Journal, the report says the total US food market grew only 1.6 % last year to $628 billion in sales.

Functional foods are expected to lose market share to the natural and organic categories but sales should retain at about a quarter of total healthy food sales over the next eight years, it says.

Showing a forecast compound growth rate of nearly 9%, organic foods is expected to be the biggest competitor to healthy foods for the future.

“Compound annual growth for the total healthy foods industry should hover above 5% for the next eight years, just outpacing the growth of its largest categories, functional and lesser-evil foods,” the report adds. Figures from Nutrition Business Journal were based on the 2010 Healthy Foods Report.

It adds however that the industry’s downward trend may be nearing its end and growth rates should improve modestly in coming years.

“As growth takes meaningful hold, healthy foods should increase its share of the total foods market, reaching 23% penetration by 2017. The trends toward natural and organic food and beverages as safer and healthier consumer choices remain particularly strong,” the report says.

Natural and organic foods will grow the fastest of any healthy foods categories in the next eight years.

Growth rate in the organic category will reach nearly 10% in 2012 reflecting the move of product categories such as organic fruits and vegetables and natural meat, fish and poultry sidle into mainstream purchasing.

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