Consumers Chime in on Organics

September 27, 2012

Why do consumers purchase organics, and will the recent Stanford study slow this growing sector?

Recent and ongoing debates as to why consumers purchase organics prompted the Lempert Report to poll the SupermarketGuru consumer panel as to what motivates them to buy organics. Is it personal health, environmental health, or for the health of the farm workers, or something else that gets people purchasing the often more expensive product? Here’s what the Lempert Report found out.

The recent Stanford meta analysis found that organics don’t differ in vitamins and minerals from conventional produce but do vary in terms of pesticide residue. So will we see a decline in organic purchases if consumers are banking on the fact that organics provide more nutrition? Probably not as the SupermarketGuru quick poll (which was completed before the Stanford study was released) found that six other reasons trumped nutrition:

- 78% buy organics to avoid pesticides
- 70% buy organics for the health of themselves and their family
- 63% buy organics to avoid additives
- 57% buy organics to support farmers/growers
- 51% buy organics because they feel they are good for the environment
- 47% buy organics because they support the principles that organics stand for

Forty-two percent purchase organics based on nutrition. To put the numbers in perspective, 61% of the panel buys organic foods. How often? Moderately 40%, usually 21%, 17% always, and 22% rarely or never.

Although the plurality purchase organics moderately, 65% of the panel said that the presence of organics affects their choice of a primary supermarket and nearly half (47%) wouldn’t cut back on organic food if their food budget had to shrink. 

The Lempert Report supports empowering consumers with facts about the foods they purchase, and when organic products, specifically produce, are too expensive for many shoppers, it is still important for Americans to consume fruits and vegetables and not avoid them for fear they are unsafe.

Supermarkets that are prepared with facts about organics, provide a store dietitian to guide consumers, and most importantly, get to know their shoppers and the things that are important to them, will find themselves in a better position to support their customers' needs. The responses from the SupermarketGuru quick poll signal that despite the state of struggling households, organics may not be an area where shoppers cut back.

Click here for more on the recent Stanford Study.