Consumers buying 'natural' despite economy

by Bryan Salvage
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CHICAGO — Most Americans are concerned about the environment, according to Mintel’s latest report on green living. Thirty-five percent of survey respondents say they would pay more for ‘environmentally friendly’ products.

“Given this increased interest in the environment over the past few years, nearly every segment of consumer products now offers a ‘green’ option for shoppers,” said Chris Haack, Mintel senior analyst. “Food and beverage and personal care are the two most mature categories and account for the majority of green products in the marketplace.”

From 2006-08, the natural and organic food and beverage category experienced rapid sales growth of more than 24%, but saw only slight growth in 2009 (1.8%) as the recession took its toll on nearly every sector of the consumer goods marketplace. Despite this stall, sales in this segment are forecast to grow nearly 20% from 2010 to 2012.

Only 21% of organic food buyers have cut down or eliminated organic purchasing, while 20% have switched to less expensive organic options, Mintel said. And approximately half (48%) are buying as much or more organic food than before the recession. Organic food is a core lifestyle element for many people who may make cuts in other areas of their budget before they will turn away from organics, Mintel relays.

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