Health- and eco-conscious consumers are just as interested in the ingredients their foods do not contain as those that make it onto the ingredient list – but price remains a top priority, according to a new survey.
The poll, conducted by Mambo Sprouts Marketing, a natural and organic direct marketing company, tracked the buying habits of 1,000 health and natural product consumers and asked them about their purchasing intentions for 2012. It found that 93% of these consumers buy non-GMO products, 85% buy antibiotic- and hormone-free meat and poultry, and 69% buy gluten free foods.
“Health and natural consumers are paying more attention to what goes into the products they purchase,” the report said, pointing out that 99% of this group already buy organic foods and nearly two-thirds (64%) intend to increase their purchases of organic foods in the coming year.
However, while most natural product consumers prefer organic foods, many are torn as price remains a top priority, according to director of MamboTrack Research Karen Herther.
She said: “Price is still very much a top-of-mind factor among consumers—driving where people shop and how marketers position and promote their products.”
In terms of deciding where to shop in 2012, 69% said price was one of the most important factors. Respondents rated selection of healthy or organic products as more important in 2012 than in 2011, with 68% citing selection as a top priority versus 56% in 2011.
Safe food preparation and storage gained in importance, from 55% highlighting food safety last year to 62% this year, and environmentally friendly practices were also rated as a top priority by more consumers, at 31% compared to 2011’s 25%.
Although natural products consumers do not represent a majority of the US population, it is a growing market, and the US Department of Agriculture responded with a spate of organic agriculture research grants in November.
According to a recent study from the Organic Trade Association (OTA), more than three-quarters of Americans (78%) choose organic foods at least occasionally, and the US organic industry grew at a rate of nearly 8% in 2010.