Organic meat was the fastest growing organic-food category in 2005. It grew by 55.4 percent, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2006 Manufacturer Survey. Next in line were sales of organic dairy products, which grew by 23.5 percent.

Total organic food sales in the United States reached nearly $14 billion in 2005, equaling 2.5 percent of total retail food sales. For the past several years, sales of organic food products have scored double-digit annual gains. By the end of this year, organic food sales are expected to total around $16 billion.

In a related topic, sales of natural products increased 9.1 percent across all retail and direct-to-consumer sales’ channels, according to research published in the 25th Annual Market Overview in the June issue of the Natural Foods Merchandise.

Food sales in natural-product stores grew 12.1 percent, and all but one of the food categories tracked by NFM had double-digit growth. Retailers of natural products saw organic, fresh meat and seafood sales grow 67.4 percent in 2005 to $114 million.

For more information on the surveys, go to www.ota.org or www.naturalfoodsmerchandiser.com.