Organic loyalty strong but growth tempered by downturn

Posted by Isobel Drake on 20th August 2009

New research from the UK has discovered nearly one in five (19%) shoppers are loyal to organic food and beverages and are maintaining their expenditure despite cost pressures.The research, from grocery industry think-tank IGD, noted that a further 9 per cent plan to buy more organic food when they have a bit more money to spend.

However, 10 per cent of shoppers suggest they have found other products that are cheaper but still provide the same perceived benefits. A further 8 per cent are focusing their organic spend on fewer products based on perceived importance, and another 8 per cent indicate they are not sure what organic stands for anymore.

The rest, over four in ten, report to have never had any interest in organic produce.

“There remains a strong core of dedicated organic shoppers – nearly one in five of the UK population – who are maintaining support, regardless of the economy,” Joanne Denney-Finch, Chief Executive at IGD, explained. “Even better news for the organic movement is that these supporters tend to be younger and more affluent – supporting our view that the organic market is experiencing a dip rather than a collapse.”

Challenges for the organic sector remain, though. Ms Denney-Finch noted that, while ethical consumerism was still growing, consumers had found other alternatives to match their values via products like Fairtrade, high animal welfare standards and local food.

“The organic movement has the opportunity to win back at least some of these shoppers and to increase sales among their existing customers,” she advised. “By communicating the full range of benefits in a clear and compelling manner, they will enable shoppers to weigh up the value for themselves.”

The organic market holds over 2 per cent of the entire UK food market, while in Australia the figure remain below one per cent.