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Organic movement bursts into mainstream due to consumer demand

BY Tara Smith

CHICAGO According to the latest report from Mintel, a leading global supplier of consumer, product and media research, Organic food sales have grown 132 percent since 2002, aided by health and food safety concerns, in addition to consumers seeking healthier, natural food options. In the same period, organic beverage sales nearly doubled (97 percent.) Together, the organic food and beverage markets make up a nearly $6 billion industry.

Manufacturers have jumped on the organic bandwagon, with the Mintel Global New Products Database showing 1,600 new organic products launched in the United States in 2006, more than twice the number released in 2002 (732). Retail grocers also have welcomed organics, featuring more than 300 private label products and dedicated entire departments to organic foods.

According to Mintel, 52 percent of Americans purchased organic foods in the past year, with 26 percent purchasing organic beverages—an increase from the 34 percent of consumers who bought organic products in 2002. Additionally, 32 percent of adults report purchasing organic products “as often as possible.” And the market is expected to continue growing. By 2012, organic food sales are expected to rise 59 percent, while organic beverages are projected to grow by 65 percent.

Mintel’s consumer survey also revealed that two-thirds of American said they would buy more organics if the products cost less. This suggests potential interest in private label brands, which offer cheaper prices than traditional brands.

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New beverage company gets celebrity spokeswoman

BY Allison Cerra

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. Entertainment legend Chaka Khan has been named the celebrity face of a new health beverage.

Purple, the antioxidant beverage chock full of rich berries, will be launched in the winter of 2007.

Chaka Khan will serve as a spokeswoman for the company and work directly with The Purple Beverage Company to develop musical events that benefit The Chaka Khan Foundation and The Purple Beverage Company’s various charity initiatives.

The announcement coincides with an additional announcement: Khan’s debut in the Broadway musical “The Color Purple.”

Purple is available in health food stores, restaurants, delis, drug stores, supermarkets and convenience stores in select cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Miami.

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Marketers are predicting sales of low-salt foods will increase

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Food marketers believe that reducing the salt in their products will ultimately boost up to more sales.

With baby boomers reaching their 60s, BrandWeek reported, marketers are being lead to believe that consumers are becoming more health-conscious.

The report also suggests, however, that the changing tastes of consumers is being overlooked, citing that Datamonitor Productscan Online reported that only 4.1 percent of foods today are making low-sodium claims, up from 2.5 percent in 2002.

While the low-sodium category is a slow-growing one, some companies, such as Campbell’s Soup, have invested millions in their campaign to cut sodium content in its food and beverage categories.

“We are focusing on how to lower sodium across our entire portfolio,” said Juli Mandel Sloves, senior manager of nutrition and wellness at Campbell. “The soup sales have exceeded our expectations and have been incremental to sales of our base brands.”

Food and beverage maker Del Monte introduced organic products three years ago, which has improved sales of low-sodium items. The company has 25 low-sodium or no-salt-added products across its portfolio. “The low-sodium/no salt business is small, only about 5 percent of our sales, but it’s growing,” said Apu Mody, senior vice president of consumer products.

As an accompaniment with the rapid increase of low-sugar products (specifically, cereals) that premiered on store shelves three years ago, this glacial-paced market may have consumers saying they want one thing and actually crave something else. But naturally, only time (and sales) will tell.

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