What factors influence a typical buyer’s decision to buy organic vs conventional foods? How well do consumers understand the differences between food marketed as organic vs those marketed as natural? These are questions we hoped to answer in our “Organic & Natural Foods” survey of 206 US consumers.
After compiling and analyzing the survey data, I’m pleased to report that it reveals some very interesting facts. In this blog post I will present the most notable conclusions we’ve been able to draw from the data.
1) 50% of respondents believe that “natural” foods don’t contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
While organic foods are required to be GMO-free, there is no such requirement for natural foods. In fact, there isn’t even a requirement that GMO ingredients be disclosed on the label.
2) When asked why they don’t purchase organic foods more frequently, 87% of respondents said “organic foods are too expensive”
“Organic foods are too expensive” (87%) was by far the most popular response, outpacing answers such as “I don’t feel that organic foods are any healthier” (18%), “I can’t find a convenient way to buy the organic foods I want” (26%), and “I don’t feel that organic foods are better than conventionally-grown foods” (19%).
3) Nearly the same percentage of respondents with $100K+ annual income said “organic foods are too expensive”
While 87% of overall respondents said “Organic foods are too expensive”, 80% of respondents with $100K+ annual incomes also cited “Organic foods are too expensive” as the reason they don’t buy organic foods more frequently. In short, both high-income and low-income consumers consider organic food to be expensive.
4) 43% of respondents believe that foods marketed as “natural” must meet strict guidelines set by the USDA.
While there are some explicit rules for foods marketed as “natural”, especially meat, the term “natural” is an ambiguous one. The USDA does not provide as strict guidelines for “natural” as they do for “organic”.
5) 33% of respondents believe that natural foods are grown without the use of chemical pesticides or sprays.
While organic foods are required to be grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or sprays, foods sold as natural are different. Natural foods may be grown with synthetic pesticides or sprays, and the majority of them are.
6) Respondents who purchase organic foods “Often” or “Nearly Always” were not significantly better educated regarding GMOs.
Of respondents who said they purchase organic foods “Often” or “Nearly Always”, 41% believe that natural foods don’t contain GMOs. However, these respondents were better educated on the difference between natural and organic – 0% of them believed that foods marketed as “natural” must meet strict guidelines set by the USDA.
Interesting: Where did survey respondents live?
Our survey didn’t have enough responses from each state to make the below data significant, but it’s still interesting.
Frequent organic food buyers:
Data was collected from 206 US consumers via an online survey administered by Survey Monkey. Survey participants were compensated for completing the survey, and a platform with a broad demographic user base was used to reduce self-selection bias. (In simple terms, survey respondents represented a diverse group of consumers, not just organic food aficionados.) To maintain data integrity, the sponsoring company and survey purpose were not disclosed to respondents.