Organic foods a larger part of total food purchases

by Bryan Salvage
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AUSTIN, Texas – Organic foods are making a larger impact in consumers' shopping choices in 2010, according to Whole Foods Market’s annual Food Shopping Trends Tracker survey conducted online in June by Harris Interactive. Although approximately three out of four adults continue to purchase natural and/or organic foods, the number of organic products found in their grocery basket has increased.

Twenty-seven percent of adults say natural or organic foods comprise more than one-fourth of their total food purchases this year, up from just 20% a year ago.

Whole Foods Market also surveyed Baby Boomers online in June (via Harris Interactive) about food attitudes and purchasing habits today compared to three decades ago. More than four-fifths of adults say they are now more concerned with what foods they eat (84%), they read nutrition labels more closely today (84%) and have a better understanding of how their food is produced (83%) than they did in 1980.

Whole Foods Market asked Boomers to rank the top items nearly always had in the pantry/refrigerator in 1980 compared to today. In 1980, the top five items were milk (89%), canned or frozen vegetables (83%), white bread (74%), soda/pop (74%) and Iceberg lettuce (66%).

In 2010, the top five items are fresh fruit (83%), milk (82%), fresh vegetables (79%), wheat or whole-grain bread (77%) and canned or frozen vegetables (69%).

Rounding out the top-10 list of food items that grew in popularity among Boomers over the past 30 years are food supplements, fresh fruit, specialty beverages like gourmet coffees and flavored teas, fresh vegetables, fresh-prepared entrées, salads and/or sides, ethnic foods and/or ingredients and store brands.

Sugary cereal shows the largest decline in popularity among Boomers (63% 30 years ago vs. just 19% today), closely followed by white bread (74% 30 years ago vs. 31% today).

Most Boomers said they are now more concerned about fat (74%), cholesterol (74%) and added growth hormones and antibiotics in meat and dairy products (70%) than in 1980.

More than half (54%) of Boomers say they buy more organic and/or natural foods today.

Most adults say current food prices continue to impact how they shop for groceries (84%), and the economy has impacted their cooking and eating habits (77%). Specifically, they are eating dinner at home more often and eating out less (59%) and are budgeting food shopping trips more strictly (42%). Of those adults who indicated that current food prices have affected their grocery shopping 46% say they go out of their way to look for lower-cost items, 56% say they prepare more meals at home, and 26% plan meals for the week and buy only what they need for that week.
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