SAN JOSE, CALIF. — Recent food safety scares, increased awareness of the long-term health impact of pesticidal residues in food, unhealthy ingredients such as carbohydrates, fat, calories and hydrogenated oils and the use of bioengineered organisms all have driven growth of the organic food sector, according to market research publisher Global Industry Analysts, Inc.

Today, the organic food sector is given the status of health food, and North America and Europe represent more than 80% of the world market for organic foods and beverages. The global organic food and beverage market is expected to exceed $86 billion by 2009.

The United States is the largest market for organic food and drink, and organic sales in the country are expected to exceed $43 billion by 2010, according to Global Industry Analysts. The Asia-Pacific region is projected to be the fastest-growing organic market, and organic foods are making progress into the mainstream food channel. Organic produce is the largest segment in the market, and sales are projected to reach $33 billion by 2010. The non-dairy organic beverage market is on track to have the fastest growth.

There has been a change in image and product positioning in the market as manufactures are trying to redefine the taste and look of organics. As a result, manufacturers are positioning organic items as good-tasting and enjoyable, shedding the traditional "health-only" image. Organics also are making their way into gourmet foods, Global Industry Analysts said.