Soaring global sales of organic food and drink are expected to reach US$40bn this year, with demand outpacing supply.

The research group Organic Monitor said that undersupply of organic products is most evident in North America, while several European markets are also witnessing supply shortages. The organic meat and dairy sectors are most adversely affected, with imports coming into both regions from Latin America and Australia.

In all global markets, fruit and vegetables have proven to be the most popular organic roducts, comprising a third of global sales. Fresh produce are typical entry points for consumers buying organic products, appealing to consumers seeking healthy and nutritious foods. Dairy products and beverages are the next largest organic product category.

Organic Monitor suggests that a disparity exists between organic food production and consumption.

Due to the price premium charged for organic foods, most organic consumers come from affluent countries with Switzerland, the US and Singapore spending the most on organic foods in their respective regions. In contrast, the largest increases in organic production are in developing countries, with Latin America, Asia and Africa reporting triple-digit growth in organic farmland since 2000.

The global organic food industry is also increasingly divided in terms of standards, Organic Monitor observed, with the development of three major trading blocks - Europe, North America and Asia - with separate sets of organic standards. This stratification is damaging global trade, the organic research company said.

"Over-concentration of demand could put the global organic food industry in a fragile condition," said Amarjit Sahota, director of Organic Monitor. Producers in developing countries should start developing internal markets for organic foods so that they are not entirely reliant on export markets, Sahota advised.