As the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and with it the erosion of groceries, households, regardless of their size, begin to fall back into longer-term routines and shopping patterns. For consumers who prefer organic products, their loyalty to the organic label remains strong, even though so much has changed in their daily lives.
To help organic companies understand how demand for their products may evolve in the near future, the American Organic Trade Association conducted an online consumer survey of 3,188 “potential organic” consumers from Tuesday, April 28 through Wednesday, May 6, 2020. Five points emerged.
Organic is now more important than ever
More than 90% of respondents said that their current messages are more biologically important than ever. The preference for organic has always been at the intersection of health and safety and that connection is even stronger today.
Organic consumers prioritize fresh produce, dairy and meat for their purchases
With less time in the supermarket and less choice on the shelves, an overwhelming majority of consumers indicated that they prefer organic when buying fruit and vegetables (93%). Animal nutrition concerns many people with 46% of the respondents who indicate that they opt for organic dairy and 39% who indicated a preference for organic meat.
Willing to take a (biological) bet
Within their organic purchasing behavior, 82% of consumers say they are open to experimenting with new products or brands. This is good news for both organic entrepreneurs and existing brands. Now that most restaurants, sports events and other public spaces are closed, trying out a new product is one way to bring some variety to everyday life.
These are difficult times (also for shopping)
The survey asked organic consumers to describe in one word what is currently the importance of purchasing food. In addition to organic, they mentioned health, safety, anxiety and availability. They talked about the supply of food, but also mentioned their favorite stores. They reported that they wore masks and were hopeful. In short, they painted a pretty good picture of what it is like to run errands at the moment.
The current changes will have a lasting effect
When asked how they expect their organic buying habits to develop in the next 3-6 months, 56% of consumers indicated that the changes they experienced (including home cooking and simplified ways of eating) will become permanent habits. As shoppers continue to prioritize health and wellness and proactive self-care as a result of the pandemic, growth in organic products is likely to continue – not only in the food segment, but also in supplements and pet care.
More to come
The online consumer survey is part of a larger study by the Organic Trade Association that looks not only at shifting patterns in organic buying behavior since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, but also to gather information about the total retail landscape for organic , about the organic supply chain, where it is located and where the challenges lie in this area. The Association has partnered with Mercaris Data Service, Category Partners (a strategic insight company) and SPINS (a data technology company) to compile the latest insights and prospects for the organic sector.