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In 2009, 31 percent of parents reported they were buying more organic food than the year before. That figure has made a spectacular spike to 41 percent in 2010, according to the latest consumer study jointly sponsored by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and KIWI Magazine.
"U.S. Familiesí Organic Attitudes & Beliefs 2010" is a tracking study that shows that "[c]onsumers are increasingly interested in where their food comes from and how it is produced," according to Christine Bushway, executive director and CEO of the Greenfield, Mass.-based OTA. The survey also found that parents buy organic because they see organic products as generally healthier, and that such products address their concerns about the effects of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics on children, or provide a means to avoid highly processed foods and/or artificial ingredients.
The point here is that there would seem to be an opportunity for supermarket foodservice operators to capitalize on this evident groundswell of parental buying behavior by adding organic items to their menus -- and educating their customers on the value of these products, which the OTA sees as a way to lower the perceived price disparity between conventional and organic products. This educational endeavor makes sense because demographically, consumersí education level appears to be more significant than income level in predicting organic purchase behaviors. Signage and point-of-purchase literature can be used to get the organic message across to parents shopping retail foodservice sections.
Another statistical reason for adding organic to the supermarket foodservice mix is that the study shows that three-quarters of U.S. families purchase some organic products. Comprising a growing percentage (36 percent vs. 32 percent in 2009), newly organic families who have begun purchasing organic products in the past two years represent more than three in 10 U.S. households.
So, to paraphrase the line from "Field of Dreams": Offer it, and parents will come.