While Americans don’t often buy organic food and drink, when they do, organic fruits and vegetables are at the top of their grocery lists. New research from Mintel reveals that half (50%) of consumers say they are most likely to purchase organic fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables, compared to other food categories like meats/poultry/seafood (41%), juice (39%) and dairy/milk/yogurt (38%). While three in 10 (29%) Americans say they do not typically buy food and drink with an organic or natural claim, these products are finding their place in shopping carts across the country. One third (32%) of consumers say half or more of the groceries they buy are organic.
Whether a cart full or just a few items, nearly three in five (57%) Americans agree that today they are buying the same amount of organic foods as they did in 2016. However, it appears preference for organic options is on the rise as one third (34%) say they are buying more organic foods in 2017 than a year ago.
Mintel research indicates that price and authenticity are purchase deterrents, even among organic shoppers. Just two in five (39%) consumers whose food purchases are at least half organic and one in five (21%) consumers overall agree that organic foods are worth the extra cost. In fact, Americans are most likely to say they would purchase more organic foods if they were less expensive (62%). Highly skeptical of organic claims, just one quarter (26%) of consumers say they trust organic food labels, while a mere 13% agree that organic foods are highly regulated. For many, brand name outweighs an organic label as just one in seven (14%) consumers agree that an organic claim is more important than a specific brand.
“The fact that consumers are more likely to seek organic fresh produce items not only speaks to the lack of organic options in certain segments, but also to the notion that organic claims simply resonate in some categories more so than in others. Our research shows that organic brands appeal to younger consumers, but there is significant effort required to persuade older generations of the value of organic or natural claims. This indicates that if organic brands can reassure consumers that organic foods are indeed living up to their claims, whether through on-pack messaging or marketing campaigns, it could be a boon to the category,” said Billy Roberts, Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel.
In addition to organics being more affordable, Americans say they would be motivated to purchase more organic foods if they were proven to be healthier (33%) and stayed fresher longer (31%). And with organic consumers the most likely to say they purchase organic foods and beverages at a supermarket (55%) or mass merchandiser (36%), more than one quarter (27%) of Americans overall agree they would purchase more organic foods if there were more organic options from major brands. Meanwhile, one in seven (13%) of those who purchase organic foods shop through online channels, including both delivery and in-store pickup.
Overall, Mintel research shows that feeling good inside and out compels consumption for natural and organic food shoppers. More than one quarter (28%) of Americans agree that they feel better about themselves when buying organic foods, rising to nearly half (48%) of those who are buying more organic foods this year. What’s more, 28% of consumers overall report buying natural/organic products because they know these products are better for them, again, rising to half (49%) of those consumers who are buying more organic foods this year.
“While consumers overall may be unaware of organics’ traits or the precise benefits of eating organically, the products do enjoy a positive reputation and generally appear to make consumers feel good about their purchase, even if it comes at a higher cost. More affordable organic options would do well with consumers and more private-label options are emerging that could help push prices down. While consumers pay attention to brand names, in their eyes, there is little difference between national brand and store-brand organic options. As such, a considerable price difference could compel consumers to turn away from national brands in favor of a comparable option with an organic claim,” concluded Roberts.