Organic group eyes ethnic team-up potential

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Organic food

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) says it will be sharing floor space at its next annual trade show with two of the US’ most prominent ethnic food events in reflection of their growing significance to natural goods.

A spokesperson for the OTA told that this year’s All Things Organic conference and expo would be held at McCormick Place in Chicago alongside the Expo Comida Latina and All Asia Food from 16 to 18 June 2009.

While all three events are being ran in partnership with Diversified Business Communications, the OTA claim that Asian-American and Latin American consumers are becoming an increasingly important area for organic manufacturers.

The three events, while not directly related, will therefore serve to compliment each other well, according to the association spokesperson.

Ethnic organic demand

Citing recent findings by The Natural Marketing Institute, Americans of Hispanic and Asian descent were found to be more interested in organic foods than other American ethnic groups.

The findings suggested that 50 per cent of Hispanics surveyed bought organic products believing them to be of benefit either to their health, the environment or local farmers.

“Buyers who are therefore looking for food innovations tailored towards Latin American or Asian American customers can also get an idea of the latest trends in organic food production,” ​said the OTA spokesperson.

Even beyond Asian and Latino consumers, the OTA claimed that a much broader share of the Wider US population were purchasing authentic ethnic food and beverages, making the market an important area for organic growth.

“The co-location of the three shows will bring the certified organic and ethnic food and beverage markets together in one focused event to deliver the latest trends and showcase new and innovative products,”​ the association stated.

The OTA said that this apparent demand amongst ethnic American consumers for organic was likely to be strengthened further by continued population change across the US.

“According to the US Census Bureau, Hispanic and Asian Americans will make up 33 percent of the [country’s] population by the year 2050,”​ the association stated.

Organic uncertainty

The long-term future for growth in the US organic food market in the US remains uncertain though according to recent findings by The Hartman Group.

Although the number of consumers using organics increased from 55 percent to 73 percent between 2000 and 2006, there has been no notable change between 2006 and today, according to the report called The Many Faces of Organic 2008.

The results of a survey for the report showed a slight decrease in organic product use as 69 percent of consumers reported using organics this year, compared to 73 percent in 2006.

It concluded the findings “indicate that aggregate organic use patterns have basically remained the same since 2006”.

Shelley Balanko, VP ethnographic research, The Hartman Group, said that this means it is no longer the case that if food manufacturers make a product organic, consumers will buy it for that reason alone.

She added: “There is still a lot of opportunity to be found but food manufacturers now have to be a lot more judicial in where they put their innovation dollars into going organic.

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