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    Organics Now 'Mainstream': Study

    CHICAGO -- The organic movement has definitely burst onto the mainstream, according to new research from intelligence provider Mintel here.

    CHICAGO -- The organic movement has definitely burst onto the mainstream, according to new research from intelligence provider Mintel here.

    Mintel reported that organic food sales have grown a whopping 132 percent since 2002, while organic beverage sales nearly doubled (97 percent) during the same period. Together, the organic food and beverage markets now make up a nearly $6 billion dollar a year industry.

    "This isn't a niche market full of environmental health nuts and affluent yuppies anymore," said Marcia Mogelonsky, senior research analyst at Mintel, in a statement. "Organic is now part of the picture for everyone from the Hispanic immigrant mother to the hip suburban teen next door. With health issues and food contamination cases in the news, many people have begun looking for safer, more natural food and drink."

    Looking ahead, Mintel said it expects strong, consistent growth for the organic food and beverage market, but it predicts a decline in the rate of growth. Organic food sales are expected to rise 59 percent by 2012, while the organic beverage market is projected to grow by nearly two-thirds (65 percent) in that time.

    Mogelonsky cited private label versions of organics as one factor that could impact market growth.

    She also noted that the prices for organic food and drink still turn off many consumers. Mintel's consumer survey revealed that two-thirds of Americans said they would buy more organics if the products cost less. This again suggests potential interest in less expensive private label brands, which seem poised to change the face of organic retail.
    Mintel's consumer research shows that over half (52 percent) of Americans purchased organic foods in the past year, while over a quarter (26 percent) went for organic beverages. This is a notable increase from the just 34 percent of consumers who bought either organic food or beverage products in 2002. What is more, nearly a third (32 percent) of adults now report purchasing organic products "as often as possible."

    The Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) shows a steady increase in new organic product development over the past few years. For instance, 2006 saw nearly 1,600 new organic food and beverage products launched in the U.S., over twice the number released in 2002 (732).

    Grocers, meanwhile, have sunk their teeth into organics, currently featuring more than 300 private label organic products and entire departments dedicated to organic foods.

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