The organic food revolution that is minting millionaires

Whole Foods Market sales increased $3.7 billion in the second quarter, driven by America's insatiable appetite for organic, healthy food. As consumers become more discerning about what they eat and more are willing to pay for better-quality foods or those for special diets, many small food makers are carving out toeholds in this fast-growing marketplace.

The trend is not surprising, considering that about $45 billion is spent on organic food every year in the United States. Today, organic products are available across America in more than 20,000 food stores and nearly 3 out of 4 grocery stores, according to TechSci Research. And it is projected to grow at a compounded annual rate of 16 percent through 2020.

On a global scale, the market for organic, functional allergen-free and better-for-you foods will reach a record $1 trillion in 2017, according toEuromonitor International.

Consumer demand is helping many start-ups pull off a successful launch, even in an industry notoriously difficult to crack because of competition from large retailers. Take Thrive Market, a Los Angeles start-up that sells specialty organic food and beauty products. The online grocer garnered $10 million in sales after just 17 months from its launch — a stunning rate of growth that has surprised its founders and investors, as well as execs across the food industry...

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