Which category tops organic food purchases as consumer confidence grows

Anissa Ford's picture

More families are buying organic food. Nearly 81 percent of American households purchase organic foods at least "sometimes" a 2013 survey found.

The majority of organic purchases are fruits and vegetables and purchasing trends of organic consumers have retailers taking note. Organic consumers tend to spend more while shopping and they tend to shop more often than those who don't buy organic. Healthy eating and a healthier diet are the primary reasons people buy organic.

Organic foods cost more because they are costly to raise and harvest. Organic growing appeals to parents and consumers who want to avoid "toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers". 30 percent of consumers who purchase organic foods go organic because they don't want chemicals in their foods.

20 percent of families purchase organic because they're opposed to antibiotics and steroids or growth hormones in food. Another 22 percent of organic consumers do not want to consume genetically modified foods.

Awareness of the USDA Organic seal has also grown, with more consumers more likely to look for the seal when shopping for organic products. Moreover, over four in ten parents (42 percent) say their trust in organic products has increased, versus 32 percent who indicated this point of view a year ago. In fact, younger, new-to-organic parents are significantly more likely to report improved levels of trust in organic products.

"Consumer trust is on the upswing for organic as the gold standard when seeking to avoid toxic and persistent pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetically engineered ingredients, and additives," said Christine Bushway. Bushway is CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA). OTA conducted the survey on organic purchasing habits between Jan. 18 - 24, 2013.

Not only are more consumers choosing organic products at least sometimes, but the majority of those buying organic foods are purchasing more items than a year earlier. New entrants to buying organic now represent 41 percent of all families – demonstrating interest in the benefits of organic food and farming is on the rise.

Produce continues to be the leading category of organic purchases, with 97 percent of organic buyers saying they had purchased organic fruits or vegetables in the past six months. Breads and grains, dairy and packaged foods were also frequently cited (all scoring above 85 percent) among those who purchase organic. Families choosing organic foods are increasingly important to retailers of all types, with organic buyers reporting spending more per shopping trip, and shopping more frequently than those who never purchase organic food.

Study findings, gathered in partnership with KIWI Magazine, are based on responses from 1,239 U.S. households about their attitudes and behaviors related to organic foods. The report provides in-depth information about organic consumers' demographics, purchase motivation, labeling comprehension, shopping patterns, and more.

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