US Organic Food Market Increases

US Organic Food Market Increases

SURVEY: Organics becoming more popular

ARLINGTON, Va., July 9 -- Forty percent of Americans said organic
food will be a bigger part of their diet within one year and 63 percent buy
organic foods and beverages at least sometimes, according to a Roper
survey released Monday.

"The trend for organics is growth, more and more people are choosing
organic produce and food products and especially in the last ten years
it's been growing at healthy rates," Miles McEvoy, organic program
manager for the state of Washington. "In the last four years in Washington
we've gone from 290 farmers to 520 because of the increased demand."

While more than six in 10 said 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.

"Milk is probably the biggest seller of organic foods, because people
are concerned about bovine growth hormones, followed by infant formula
and baby food," Simon Harris, organic field coordinator for Organic
Consumer Association, told UPI.

"While organic food products are the fastest growing segment of the
food industry it still less than 2 percent of the total food industry,"
Harris said. "But, it's not exactly what we expected a few decades ago,
with people buying organic food from local farmers, large-scale organic
farms, primarily in California, are largely supplying Safeway and the big
chains with organic products."

Nonetheless, the large-scale organic farms are largely responsible for
the decrease in prices for organic products and improved distribution so
that more and more supermarkets are providing organic food sections.

"Our members are small organic farmers in New England and while the
large-scale organic farms resulted in lower prices for our produce we
still can sell everything we can grow," Jack Kittredge, of Barre, Mass.,
the editor of the National Organic Farming Association newsletter, told

"Here in New England, most of our farmers have another occupation to
help pay the bills, just as in conventional farming."

Eighty-one percent know that for a food or beverage to be organic, the
ingredients must be grown without use of added hormones, chemical
pesticides or fertilizers; 73 percent know that organic ingredients are grown
using environmentally friendly practices'; and 67 percent know that organic
foods cannot contain preservatives, according to the survey.

Even with the increased demand for organic food, the United States lags
far behind Europe, where all supermarkets carry organic products and
government are subsiding the change over from conventional farming to
organic farming, according to Harris. McEvoy said that European markets
accounts are where more and more organic apples from Washington are

According to the survey, headlines on mad cow disease, taco shells
made with genetically modified corn not approved for human consumption,
antibiotic residue and pesticides residue in conventional food products have
not gone unnoticed.

Seventy-nine percent of the consumers surveyed were concerned about
the safety of their food and 71 percent said the idea of organic food is

Some argue that organic produce may contain pathogens or e.Coli
bacteria from the manure used in organic farming.

"Manure is strictly regulated for organic food, it cannot be placed 120
days before a food product is harvested," Harris explained. "Most manure
is composted and as a result the high temperatures kill the pathogens and
bacteria and is incorporated into the soil before planting, however, raw
manure can be placed on food products in conventional farming."

The survey was sponsored by Walnut Farms, a maker of organic soups and
salsas, and conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide via telephone, among a
nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults, age 18 or older.
(Reported by Alex Cukan in Albany, N.Y.).

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