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COLLINGSWOOD, N.J. -- Consumers apparently might be torn between buying local and buying organic food, according to the results of a survey conducted by Mambo Sprouts MamboTrack research services here. The research firm found that while 36.1 percent of natural product consumers said they would choose local produce over organic items, another 33.3 percent said the opposite, and the rest of the respondents weren't sure which to choose.
In general, consumers reported a preference for food that was both local and organic. Their motives for buying locally grown food were: it was better for the environment and sustainability, due to the reduced environmental impact of transporting food; the belief that much local produce is fresher and healthier, even if it's not certified organic; and they mistrusted, or were confused by, organic food labels.
"This survey revealed that consumers are definitely looking for more clarity and definition in organic product classifications," noted Mambo Sprouts Marketing c.e.o. Matthew A. Saline in a statement.
With regard to the USDA Organic seal, 46.7 percent of respondents believed that it indicated 100 percent organic contents, 24.8 percent thought it meant at least 95 percent organic, 16 percent thought it meant 70-plus percent organic organic, and 12 percent believed it meant some organic. However, some consumers also said they had concerns that USDA standards were declining or weaker than they would like.
When asked what label information would most influence them to buy organic foods, seven in 10 respondents said "all organic," while only 25 percent chose "USDA organic." Over half said they would be more confident about buying organics if stores had their own organic food standards as well as the USDA seal.
To make shopping easier, seven in 10 respondents requested improved in-store signage and 45 percent wanted flyers and informational pamphlets.
Based on the findings above, Mambo Sprouts suggested that retailers:
--Feature both organics and local products prominently
--Improve signage signifying organic and local food products
--Employ colorful eye-catching point-of-purchase placards
--Label products "all organic" whenever possible
--Supplement in-store strategies with other marketing and educational campaigns about organic products, such as mailings and newsletters
The Mambo Sprouts' MamboTrack online survey was conducted between July 26 and July 30, with 850 natural and organic product consumers responding. Mambo Sprouts Marketing is a multifaceted direct marketing company that operates exclusively in the health, natural and organic product arena.