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    Despite the Economy, Most Organic/Natural Consumers Are Still Loyal: Mintel

    While trading down and out of some segments is common during a poor economy, shoppers who purchase natural and organic foods are remaining faithful to the category, a recent survey from Chicago-based market research firm Mintel has found.

    While trading down and out of some segments is common during a poor economy, shoppers who purchase natural and organic foods are remaining faithful to the category, a recent survey from Chicago-based market research firm Mintel has found.

    According to the survey, almost 40 percent of consumers said they haven’t changed their organic product-buying habits because of the recession, and just 3 percent have stopped purchasing organic items completely.

    “Heavy users of natural and organic food and drink are most likely to indicate they’ve traded down to less expensive organic options,” observed Mintel senior analyst David Browne. “However, less-frequent consumers of organic products have shown that they haven’t shifted their behavior. This is good news for the organic food and drink market, as this group may begin to buy more once recession-related fears begin to fade.”

    With a dip in 2009 supermarket sales of 0.3 percent, Mintel and Schaumburg, Ill.-based natural products industry consultant SPINS anticipate that the organic food and drink category to recover gradually during 2010-12, but not at pre-recession growth rates. Shoppers have altered their purchase behavior in ways that are likely to continue during time period.

    “The natural and organic food industry has an opportunity to instill trust and educate consumers as we work our way out of this recession,” noted Browne.

    At the present time, only one-third (33 percent) of survey respondents trust the term “natural” on labels and close to half (45 percent) trust the term “organic.” Around 30 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t know whether they could trust either term, however.

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