78% of U.S. Families Purchase Organic

Consumers, more than ever before, vote for organic food choices despite economic difficulty.

Published on: Nov 11, 2011

Seventy eight percent – more U.S. families than ever before – say they are choosing organic foods, according to a study published today by the Organic Trade Association (OTA). 

"In a time when the severity of the economy means making tough choices, it is extremely encouraging to see consumers vote with their values by including quality organic products in their shopping carts," says Christine Bushway, OTA's Executive Director and CEO. The finding is one of many contained in OTA's newly released 2011 U.S. Families' Organic Attitudes and Beliefs Study. "It's clear that with more than three-quarters of U.S. families choosing organic, this has moved way beyond a niche market," Bushway adds.

According to the study, four in ten families indicate they are buying more organic products than they were a year ago. The findings are in line with those in OTA's 2011 Organic Industry Survey, which revealed that the U.S. organic industry grew at a rate of nearly 8% in 2010. Fueled by consumer choice and demand, the organic sector is one of the few components of the U.S. economy that continues to add jobs.

Nearly half – 48% – of parents surveyed revealed that their strongest motivator for buying organic is their belief that organic products "are healthier for me and my children." Other motivators for purchasing organic included concern over the effects of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics on children, and the desire to avoid highly processed or artificial ingredients. 

Nearly a decade after the federal rules for organic were implemented, 72% of parents are now familiar with the USDA Organic seal, up significantly from 65% in 2009. However, the study also found that three in ten U.S. families are new entrants to the organic marketplace. This figure is consistent with prior years' findings, and indicates a need for continued outreach and education on the verified benefits offered by organic agriculture and products.

For the study, OTA, in partnership with KIWI Magazine, polled nearly 1,300 U.S. families about their attitudes and behaviors relating to organic foods. The total sample reflects the target population of U.S. households at a confidence interval of +/-3% at the 95% confidence level. This is the third year the study has been conducted.

The study contains in-depth information about organic consumers' demographics, purchase motivation, understanding of organic, willingness to substitute when organic is not available, and attitudes about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Also contained in the study is strategic information about organic influencers' communication patterns, online behaviors and much more.

The 2011 U.S. Families' Organic Attitudes and Beliefs Study is available for purchase by visiting OTA's bookstore.