Organic Consumers Association

Organic Market Keeps Growing in the USA

From <> 9/11/03

Organic Trade Association

September 2003

Mainstream outlets continue to introduce additional organic products.

Price Chopper Supermarkets is rolling out a private label organic line, with about 20 products slated to be available by the end of 2003, including soymilk, tortilla chips, and frozen veggie burgers. Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc. has announced plans to test-market a line of organic ice cream in San Francisco and Boston. The 7-Eleven store chain is adding several varieties of natural, low-fat and organic chips from manufacturers such as The Hain Celestial Group and Snyders to appeal to health-conscious consumers. Dunkin' Donuts has announced it would begin selling as a national brand espresso beverages made exclusively with Fair Trade Certified (coffee certified through TransFair USA).

Meanwhile, research is showing organic agriculture is an attractive alternative for growers.

"The natural and organic pork market: A sustainable niche for small-scale producers? A review and analysis of the evidence" by W. Parker Wheatley in Vol. 18, No. 1, 2003, American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, shows small-scale producers may find natural and organic production as viable alternatives to capital-intensive production. Comparing the economics of organic and conventional grain crops in a long-term research study, Kathleen Delate and colleagues at Iowa State University found organic rotations are competitive with conventional corn-soybean rotations [Vol. 18, No. 2, 2003, American Journal of Alternative Agriculture]. A 71-year-old organic farmer from Big Sandy, MT, was one of two persons nationwide to receive the 2003 Excellence in Conservation Award from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. A study by Montana State University research Dave Bucshena showed that from 1992 to 2000, organic farmer Robert Boettcher achieved returns that were slightly more than $15 an acre better than those of conventional farmers in the area. Marharishi Vedic City in Iowa announced a $9.5 million greenhouse project to produce organic food. The project, when completed, is anticipated to create 215 jobs and produce enough products to fill two refrigerated semi-trailer loads a day.

Surveys indicate consumers are interested in what organic products have to offer.

Seventy percent of consumer households surveyed for the Food Marketing Institute's "Trends in the United States: Consumer Attitudes & the Supermarket 2003" report indicated their primary grocery store sells natural or organic foods; of the remaining, 18 percent said their store didn't, while 12 percent were not sure. Nearly half (48 percent) said they prefer that organic products be displayed in their own section rather than integrated in the store. However, an increasing number (37 percent, up from 26 percent the previous year) said they prefer that organic products be stocked with their conventionally produced counterparts.

A nationwide survey released in late May showed that approximately three-quarters of Americans are concerned about the presence of antibiotics in meat production when they shop for beef and poultry. However, less than one-half are aware that the beef and poultry purchased at American supermarkets commonly are raised on feed containing antibiotics. The survey, conducted by Synovate, was commissioned by Whole Foods Market. The use of antibiotics is not allowed in organic production.


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