In the United States, organic foods haven't hit the mainstream and are still niche products despite their greater availability and growing awareness about their alleged health and environmental benefits, according to a new survey by marketing research and consulting firm TABS Group.
Over the past year, the amount of consumers of organic products hasn't increased despite the fact that the organic trend has become more widespread, according to the report, which was released December 10.
The survey found that US adults were most keen on purchasing organic fresh fruit (a 26 percent purchase incident), followed by organic vegetables (25 percent purchase incident), organic eggs (17 percent) and organic milk (16 percent). Frozen organic products such as vegetables, fruit and ice cream had the lowest purchase levels of between 5 and 7 percent, the survey revealed.
Consumers apparently also prefer shopping in conventional supermarkets for their organic products instead of in traditional health food and specialty food stores, prompting the researchers to conclude that retailers investing heavily in organic products are seeing low returns on their investments.
"Organic food and beauty products continue to be niche products, they have not penetrated a mass audience, to date," said Dr. Kurt Jetta, president of the Connecticut-based TABS Group. "Identical to last year, only 38% of adults claim to have purchased anything from the major organic categories in the last six months."
Meanwhile, in Europe the organic market continues to grow despite the economic downturn. In the UK, organic food sales are expected to rise by 8.7 percent to reach $38 billion by end 2009, according to the market researcher Packaged Facts.
And a recent article in the The Telegraph (Nov. 21) reports that organics are taking firm root in Eastern Europe. In Poland, most supermarkets now feature organic products in their assortments and Romania has posted record sales of organically produced fruits and vegetables - 15 times higher this year than last year in the 21 supermarkets operated by French retail giant Carrefour. Meanwhile all over Hungary, organic farmers markets are becoming regular weekly events, the report says.
The TABS Group Organic Product study, which covered food and personal care items, was conducted in early December among 1,000 respondents aged over 18.
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