The trade group’s 2016 US Families Organic Attitudes and Beliefs study revealed 35% of US families “make a great deal of effort” to choose organic foods and products – a figure that jumps to 74% when families who make at least a minor effort are added.
In addition, one-third of parents say buying organic is among their top three priorities when buying food. This is notably less than the 57% of parents who listed price, 52% who listed taste and 43% who said buying healthy and nutritious products was a top priority.
But still, it edged out convenience factors, such as availability at my preferred store, and having an easy to understand ingredient list, both of which were a top priority for 18% of parents, said Angela Jagiello, associate director of conference and product development for OTA.
Parents prioritize where to spend on organic
Given that price and organic are both top values in the survey findings, and that organic often is more expensive than conventional, it isn’t surprising that parents prioritized where they spend money on organics to benefit most their children.
Specifically, 85% of parents said buying organic baby foods was “extremely” or “very important” as did 84% of parents about kids’ foods. These fell just after fruits and vegetables, which pulled in 89% of parents, and just before meat (83%) and dairy (81%).
As shoppers work their way into products typically found in the center of the store, fewer parents said buying organic was extremely or very important. For example, bread and grains were named by 78% of parents followed by packaged foods at 75% and beverages at 65%, according to the study.
A closer look at the shopping habits of parents reveals that buying organic often is emotionally charged. Almost half of parents surveyed (44%) agreed that they feel like a better parent when they buy organic products for their families. The value they place on organic is underscored by 38% who say they are willing to pay more for organic.
Room for organic to grow
That said, organic still has detractors, the survey results show. It found 40% of parents do not feel food needs to be organic as long as it is healthy, 34% do not think organic products are new or unique and 29% do not believe organic products are better than conventional options.
Other findings suggest organic still has room to grow, but industry needs to expand distribution, options and provide more education to consumers. For example, just over a third of shoppers said they would buy more organic products but their store does not carry many options. Another quarter said they don’t know what the organic label means.
But consumers clearly are eager and willing to learn, based on the survey finding that 82% of consumers make some type of effort to educate themselves about organic, sustainable and clean living.
Another opportunity for growth uncovered by the study is around organic meat, which 83% of parents said is extremely or very important, Jagiello said. She noted, however, most people do not have access to organic meat.
“So, clearly that illustrates a great deal of opportunity in the space, but we really have some supply chain issues that need to be dealt with before that can be addressed," she said.
She added, overall the study shows that "consumers clearly are hungry for organic."