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Organic Foods Continue to Grow in Popularity in U.S.

SOURCE Whole Foods Market, Inc.
Web Site:

Posted 10/22/04

Organic Foods Continue to Grow in Popularity According to Whole Foods Market

Two Years After Organic Standards Enacted, More Than Half of Americans Have
Tried Organic Foods; Americans Choose Organic Products for Quality, Flavor,
Environmental Impact, Perceived Health Benefits

AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- According to the 2004
Whole Foods Market Organic Foods Trend Tracker* survey released today, more
than one-quarter of Americans (27 percent) are eating more organic products
than just one year ago. Just two years after the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) implemented the National Organic Standards and mandated
clearer labeling of organic products, the survey also reveals that more than
half of Americans (54 percent) have tried organic foods and beverages and
nearly one in 10 use organic products regularly or several times per week.
Americans are buying organic products for a variety of reasons, with more
than half of respondents saying they believe organic foods are better for
the environment (58 percent) and better for their health (54 percent).

Additionally, 57 percent believe buying and using organic products are better
for supporting small and local farmers. Almost one in three Americans (32
percent) believes organic products taste better, and 42 percent believe
organic foods are better quality.

"The survey results echo national sales trends, with recent reports
indicating organic food sales hit $10 billion and 20 percent sales growth
last year," said Margaret Wittenberg, Whole Foods Market vice president of
governmental and public affairs. "When I started in the natural foods
industry more than 25 years ago, most organic items were in the produce

But today, the selection stretches throughout the store from farm-fresh
produce to handcrafted pastas, cereals, dairy products, wines, cheeses,
chocolates, grains, vinegars and almost every product imaginable. The sheer
variety and the increasing number of organic products available allows our
customers to find almost any organic product to fit their lifestyle."

Despite wider variety throughout all aisles, produce still remains the
number one category of organic food purchases, with 68 percent of the
respondents who currently choose organic foods seeking fresh organic fruits
and vegetables. Survey respondents are seeking other organic foods as well:
bread or baked goods (26 percent), non-dairy beverages (26 percent), eggs
(26 percent), dairy products (24 percent), packaged goods such as soup or pasta
(19 percent), meat (22 percent), frozen foods (18 percent), prepared foods
or ready-to-go meals (14 percent) and baby food (7 percent).

The primary barrier to trying organic products is still price; almost
three-quarters (73 percent) believe organics are too expensive. However,
with the growth of the organic foods industry, prices are becoming more
competitive as the availability and variety increase. Whole Foods Market's own 365
Organic Everyday Value line, the first line of all value-priced organic
products in the United States, was introduced in 2002 and now includes
almost 200 products with an ever increasing line up ranging from pantry items and
frozen vegetables to snacks and fresh produce.

* The 2004 Whole Foods Market(R) Organic Foods Trend Tracker is an annual
survey commissioned by Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI), the world's
leading natural and organic foods supermarket. The survey of 1,000 Americans, now
in its third year, was conducted by Synovate in August 2004 and is representative
of the United States adult population.

About Whole Foods Market(R)
Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market
( ) is the world's leading natural and organic
foods supermarket and America's first national certified organic grocer. In
fiscal year 2003, the company had sales of $3.1 billion and currently has
more than 160 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The
Whole Foods Market motto, "Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet"(TM)
captures the company's mission to find success in customer satisfaction and
wellness, employee excellence and happiness, enhanced shareholder value,
community support and environmental improvement. Whole Foods Market,
Harry's Farmers Market(R), and Fresh & Wild(R) are trademarks owned by Whole Foods Market IP, LP. Whole Foods Market employs more than 30,000 team members and has been ranked for seven consecutive years as one of the "100 Best
Companies to Work for" in America by Fortune magazine.

Contact: Amy Hopfensperger
512-485-3600, ext. 3728