Labels, labels everywhere. But what do they mean?
The group’s 2013 Market Overview found a 12 percent increase in sales of organic products (including non-food items such as bedding), and reported that today, eight in 10 parents now buy organic at least some of the time. The study also found that the generation of “globally thinking millennials” are diving into sustainable living wholeheartedly and as a result, the organic sector is “ exploding.”
Yet like other consumers interested primarily in the “convenience” of food, sales are particularly strong for organic “condiments” (16 percent growth), and “snack foods” (15 percent).
But along with more demand has come increasing confusion.
Some industry observers—and several recent surveys—point out that mainstream consumers still don’t grasp what the USDA Organic seal means or how it benefits them, and many view it with suspicion.
More specifically, the report found:
NMI’s [the Natural Marketing Institute] most recent survey of health and wellness trends found that only 33 percent of the general population recognizes and understands the USDA Organic seal—a slight decline in recognition from previous surveys. Three-quarters say organic is too expensive. Two-thirds say they question its authenticity. Four in 10 say the benefits of paying a premium price for organic are not clear. Even more concerning: When consumers were asked what attribute in a food they look for most (great taste, nutritious, grown without pesticides or GMOs, natural, from sustainable farms, etc.), USDA Organic ranked dead last, with fewer than 18 percent ranking it as very important.
This confusion in the term “organic” was also recently confirmed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley who say organic’s fast paced growth has resulted consumers having no real understanding what it is they are buying.
[To read about the University of California, Berkeley report, see “What Is Organic Anyway?”]