Trend Spotting: What are Natural and Organic Food Consumers (Like You!) Looking For?
When the natural food section at my local supermarket expanded from three shelves to three full aisles two years ago, I got the strong impression that I was no longer one of the “few” consumers scrutinizing labels for all-natural and special diet foods. Demand is thankfully growing, and my favorite coupon site, Mambo Sprouts, used their marketing research team to find out what drives natural and organic food consumers.
The results were surprising and intriguing … for me at least. Check out the stats and see what groups your shopping habits fall into:
80% of natural and organic consumers (so we are talking a specialty group already, not the public at large) regularly read labels for ingredient and nutrition information and are interested in purchasing functional foods with added health benefits. 39% checked off that they were very interested in functional foods.
In terms of those functional foods with added benefits, 44% have an eye out for calcium (hmm, I think many of you dairy-free foodies may be in this category), 44% want more Omega-3’s, 43% like antioxidants, 38% seek out tummy taming probiotics and probiotics, and 30% are on the Vitamin D bandwagon.
Among the natural and organic consumers surveyed, 65% expressed a strong desire for foods with organic ingredients, 47% seek low sodium products, 39% look for low fat and low cholesterol grocery items, and 31% are on a vegetarian mission.
So what about those allergen-free shoppers? Mambo Sprouts didn’t forget us in their survey … in fact 1 in 3 natural product consumers are on the hunt for allergen-free foods. 25% of shoppers report looking for gluten-free / wheat-free foods, 9% of us want dairy-free foods, 6% have the daunting task of looking for soy-free foods, while 4% must avoid peanuts.
Though I am well aware of the rise in Celiac disease diagnoses, I was a bit surprised by the high number of gluten-free food seeking consumers, who seem to be on the hunt for bread, cereal, chips, snacks, and pasta mostly. At first I wondered if the incidence of Celiac disease was rising even more quickly than we realize, but it seems there are many reasons why consumers are leaning toward gluten-free foods. 43% of gluten-free shoppers simply feel that gluten-free products are healthier for their family, and 36% said it was simply because their favorite brands were gluten-free already. Just 34% of gluten-free consumers (not that this is a small number in the grand scheme of things) have a household member with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. The study actually state “wheat intolerance” so I am not sure if that 34% included both gluten intolerance and wheat allergies.
But, we are an eco-conscious bunch too. 40% have recently tried a new brand or switched brands, specifically because it had more earth friendly packaging; 66% bought products made of recycled materials, and 44% picked up items with compostable/biodegradable packaging.
Keep in mind, this was a relatively small survey, completed by 600 natural product consumers in April, 2010, so the numbers may have some variance.
Personally, I obviously seek out dairy-free foods, but I also purchase soy-free foods – not for an allergy, but simply because I prefer my soy in “pure” form such as tofu, rather than loading up on it in packaged foods. I eat gluten-free a lot, but don’t necessarily seek it out in stores. I confess that since I buy few packaged foods, and most of those brands are eco-conscious themselves, I haven’t paid much attention to packaging, but may keep a better eye out now. I’m actually not a fan of functional foods, though I don’t bypass a food simply because it contains them, I just don’t seek them out. Oh yes, and I always read ingredient statements (always!), but the nutrition label with fat, calories, etc. is of lesser importance to me.
So what about you? Where do your shopping habits fall in these categories? Give me your feedback! Are there other natural food shopping habits you have that may not have been addressed here?