Whole Foods' Biggest Problem In One Chart

For a long time, Whole Foods was one of the only organic grocery options.

Now, organic food sales are exploding in the U.S. and the company has more competitors than ever.

Whole Foods’ stock tanked Wednesday following the CEO’s acknowledgment of the increasingly competitive market.

“The growing demand for fresh healthy foods, the offering of natural and organic products is expanding everywhere and new stores, existing stores and online,” CEO John Mackey said on the call.

Organic food sales in the U.S. will more than triple from $US11 billion in 2004 to an estimated $US35 billion in 2014.

If you widen the scope to include “natural” foods in the U.S. — along with organic — total sales come to $US48 billion in 2012, up from $US6 billion in 1998, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Organic food only accounted for 4% of total U.S. food sales in 2012, but it’s getting closer to becoming mainstream, especially with retailers like Wal-Mart getting into the game.

Wal-Mart last month announced the launch of an organic food brand in its store that would cost roughly 25% less than other organic brands it sells.

To be certified as organic, farms must ban the use of most synthetic pesticides and raise its animals on organic feed and without antibiotics or hormones.

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