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Organic sales projected to rise as more millennials have children and seek clean options for kids

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By Elizabeth Crawford

14-Sep-2017

Organic projected to rise as more millennials have children, OTA says

New research published by the Organic Trade Association connecting parenting to increased organic purchases suggests sales of organic could see a significant boost in the coming years as more millennials, many of whom already favor organic, have children. 

The 2017 US Families’ Organic Attitudes and Behaviors Study released Sept. 14 by OTA “clearly shows the positive relationship between organic and parenting,” signaling “exciting times lie ahead for the organic sector,” said Laura Batcha, the CEO and executive director of the trade association. 

According to the trade association, millennial parents are the biggest group of organic buyers in America, and as the percentage of this generation that has children increases from the current 25% to roughly 80% in the next 10 to 15 years, there will be “a surge of new organic eaters and consumers.”

“The survey shows that the heavy buyer of organic – the consumer who always or most of the time chooses organic – is driven by a strong belief that selecting organic for the family makes them a better parent. That buyer is actively seeking out health, nutritious choices for themselves and their children,” which is “the number one motivator for this group when choosing food, followed by the product begin organic,” according to a press release from OTA.

The survey revealed other reasons that consumers choose organic for themselves and their children are concern about the health impact of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics, “along with the desire to avoid highly processed foods and artificial ingredients for the family,” according to OTA.

These findings build on revelations from last year's survey that about half of all US parents who buy organic are millennials. 

Shifting shopping habits

These priorities already are influencing shopping habits as illustrated by baby food for the first time surpassing fruits and vegetables as the top category in which consumers say buying organic is extremely important.

“Food targeted to kids was also among the categories most important for buying organic” in the survey, according to OTA.

This shift signals a more significant change long-term given “heavy buyers of organic – whether millennials with or without children – are much more likely to have been raised eating organic foods and being taught to make organic choices,” according to OTA. As such, it adds, “today’s organic buyers with children are already passing their organic habits on to the next generation, and so will the millennial parents-to-be.”

Digital sales pave the way

Organic product manufacturers and suppliers hoping to benefit from this trend would be well served to invest in online grocery distribution and digital advertising, as technology is an integral part in the daily lives of younger consumers -- including millennial parents, OTA suggests.

This advice is based on the survey’s finding that 40% of millennials shop for groceries online compared to only 30% of older parents, and that 20% of those surveyed said they liked the quality of organic produce purchased online and 17% found it to be a convenient and easy way to shop organic.

In addition, 10% reported an increase in organic purchases because of online shopping, according to OTA.

“This all suggests that online shopping has strong potential for increasing organic consumption among US families,” OTA notes in a release.

One way to tap into this is to promote organic products through online reviews, blog posts and mobile apps, through which millennial parents are much more likely to access the information compared to more traditional methods such as coupons, commercials and recommendations from friends.

Finally, OTA suggests organic producers and manufacturers can reach millennials parents through meal kits, which 37% of 18- to 35-year-old parents currently use.

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