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Boom in Organic Foods and Beverages Fueled By Food Fears and By Desire for Healthier Living; <br>Half of All Americans Say They Are 'Going Organic' Within Five Years

Boom in Organic Foods and Beverages Fueled By Food Fears and By Desire for Healthier Living;
Half of All Americans Say They Are 'Going Organic' Within Five Years

July 9, 2001 PR Newswire

Americans fear their food. Unrelenting news of livestock afflicted with Mad Cow or foot-and-mouth disease, taco shells made with genetically modified corn not approved for human consumption, or dairy products laced with antibiotic residue and bovine growth hormones, might be among the reasons why eight in ten Americans say they are unsure of how safe their food really is.

Organic Food Is a Major Trend in New Millennium

In a new national survey from Walnut Acres, America's original organic brand, 79% of consumers say they are concerned about the safety of their food. The study, "Walnut Acres Certified Organic Future," shows that the majority of consumers are concerned with bacterial contamination, use of growth hormones and antibiotics, residues of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, irradiation and genetic modification. When it comes to unknown ingredients hidden in non-organic food and beverages, more than three-quarters (78%) of those polled by Roper Starch Worldwide, Inc. agree they have no idea what they might be eating. By contrast, seven in ten (71%) say that the idea of organic food is appealing to them. Concerns about food safety, coupled with the assurances of health benefits and high quality of certified organic products, are strengthening consumer interest in organic foods and:

* Forty percent of Americans say organic food will be a bigger part of their diet within one year;
* Fifty percent predict that organic food will be a bigger part of their diet within the next five years;
* Six in 10 Americans (63%) buy organic foods and beverages at least sometimes;
* Two-thirds (68%) say organics will be a major food trend in the new millennium.

"The explosion in popularity of organic food is largely attributable to the barrage of headlines about Mad Cow, growth hormones, foot-and-mouth disease, and other threats to food safety," said Olivier Sonnois, Vice President of Strategy and Development for Acirca, Inc., maker of Walnut Acres certified organic soups and salsas. Noting the high level of consumer concern (79%), Sonnois added: "Certified organic foods and beverages provide American consumers with peace of mind and an assurance of safety."

Women Are More Concerned Than Men

The Walnut Acres survey found that nearly two in three Americans (63%) feel organic foods and beverages are both better and more healthful for them than their non-organic counterparts. Americans are more than just "concerned" about the safety of their food, Sonnois noted. "There is a palpable fear of the unknown and an increasing belief that what you can't see might hurt you." And, concern about food safety cuts across every age, income, and education demographic. But when it comes to gender, women are more concerned. Forty-one percent of women vs. 32% of men say they are very concerned about the safety of today's foods.

Limited Availability May Be Inhibiting Growth of Organic Market

Interestingly, while more than six in 10 (63%) say they buy organic foods or beverages at least sometimes when they shop, lack of availability at conventional supermarkets and grocery stores is one reason many people who don't regularly buy organic don't buy more. In fact, 44% say organic foods are not available where they shop. Half of all people who rarely or never buy organics (51%), cite lack of selection or variety of organic foods and beverages as a reason they don't buy them more often. "We are listening carefully to what Americans are saying. They tell us they are concerned about the safety of their food, and they intuitively believe that organic foods are better for them," said Mark Koide, Vice President of Marketing of Acirca, Inc., maker of Walnut Acres. "The quickly growing ranks of concerned shoppers want to do the right thing for themselves and their families by purchasing organic foods, however, they are not finding what they want where they want it." Another barrier to the purchase of organic foods and beverages is the premium price they command. Nearly seven in ten (68%) consumers who do not regularly buy organic products cite higher cost as the reason. Importantly, taste, which has always been a key driver of food preferences, has not been a barrier to purchase for organic foods today. In fact, nearly seven in ten (69%) believe organic foods taste about the same or better than non-organic products. Realizing the added value of organic foods, more than half of Americans who are already purchasing organics (57%) say they'll be incorporating more of them into their diets this year. And five years from now, roughly six in ten expect to be consuming more organic foods (67%).

Acirca and Walnut Acres

All Walnut Acres soups and salsas meet the strict USDA's standards to be labeled certified organic. Walnut Acres products never contain synthetic preservatives, artificial sweeteners, sulfites, extenders, stabilizers, MSG, artificial flavors or colorings. Established in 1946, Walnut Acres is America's original organic brand and is owned by Arlington, Va.-based Acirca, Inc., makers of fine certified organic foods and beverages. The Acirca name, derived from "A Circle of Life," underscores the company's commitment to organic foods and to manage products that give back to the environment. Acirca is a privately held company owned collectively by company employees and independent investors. Acirca was founded on June 1, 2000, to develop premier certified organic brands in the rapidly expanding packaged organic food business. The company is striving to bring convenience in packaged certified organic foods to health conscious consumers. The "Walnut Acres Certified Organic Future" study was conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide via telephone, among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults, age 18 or older. The sample was collected March 1 - March 5, 2001, using Random Digit Dialing methodology.

SOURCE Walnut Acres

CONTACT: Melissa Mauro, mmauro@ptanaka.com, or Beth Corwin, bcorwin@ptanaka.com, both of PT&Co., 212-229-0500, for Walnut Acres

URL: http://www.prnewswire.com


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