The Expanding World of Organics

The Expanding World of Organics

What motivates a shopper to try an organic product can vary from shopping cart to shopping cart. The definition of the typical organic shopper is becoming blurry as more consumers experiment with the segment.

The majority of shoppers enter the market for health purposes; they want to know what is in their food, say observers. However, Mayra Velazquez de Leon, president of Organics Unlimited, a San Diego-based supplier of organic bananas, is witnessing a growing focus on sustainability as motivation. “We see a lot of shoppers between 20 and 50 years old, as well as seniors. Seniors are focused on their health, while younger shoppers are as equally interested in taking care of the environment, sustainability, social responsibility, taking care of the workers.”

The organic shoppers used to be fairly stereotypical, says Simcha Weinstein, director of marketing for Bridgeport, N.J.-based Albert’s Organics, but “things are very different these days.” For example, one of the fastest growing groups shopping the organic market is the Hispanic population, he says. “As organics become more mainstream, they have begun to impact a greater part of the population.”

Weinstein’s says retailers marketing organic should target people they perceive to be the least likely demographic to shop for such foods. By going this route a retailer will be far more inclined to have a staff that can answer and anticipate any question, he says, adding that, “The result is that you have created an organic program that is attractive and effective for any shopper who enters the store.”

Another big motivator is the ongoing debate over GMO and other labeling agendas. Despite the fact that no state has been able to implement legislation requiring GMO-labeling, it is bringing a heightened awareness to the industry nationwide. Since organics, by definition, do not contain GMOs, it is an easy and safe purchase for people concerned with what is in their food.

Many observers say the prevalence of GMO talk in the marketplace is partly responsible for the boom of all-natural- and organic-focused supermarkets. If so, larger conventional CPG manufacturers are listening.

Take Cherrios, for instance. The cereal made headlines last month when General Mills declared Cherrios would be made with non-GMO grain, says Matt Seeley, vice president of marketing for The Nunes Co., the Salinas, Calif.-based grower behind Foxy Organics. “As more information becomes available to consumers, consumers want to know more about what is going into their food—and ultimately their bodies.” The trend is only going to grow, he adds. This is good news for the organic segment—especially produce, since most of it is GMO-free by nature, say observers.

It is important to understand this purchasing motivation in order to keep the category growing, but for many growers, what it boils down to, is “encouraging consumers to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, whether they are conventionally or organically grown,” adds Seeley.

You can read the rest of the article by Elizabeth Louise Hatt at Grocery Headquarters.

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