This Annual Food Choices Study was conducted in December 2018 among 509 U.S. consumers who shop for groceries for their households.
Who chooses organic food?
FULL SURVEY RESULTS BELOW
Who chooses organic food?
- 47% of household shoppers buy organic food for their households at least some of the time. 12% say they do so “all of the time.”
- People who claim they’ll listen to any kind of music are the most inclined to buy organic food, followed by those who listen to Rap or Hip Hop. Listeners to country and country adjacent music (traditional country, new country, folk, Americana and Rockabilly) had the fewest consumers saying they choose organic food.
- Pet owners are more likely than non-owners to choose organic, with 53% of pet owners saying they buy it sometimes or all the time, and only 37% of non-owners saying they buy organic at least sometimes.
- People with kids are more likely than those without kids in their homes to buy organic (52% vs 41%).
- Not surprisingly Millennials, Gen Z and Gen X are more likely than Boomers to choose organic (upwards of 50% for the younger gens, and only 30% for Boomers).
- Notably, Millennials/Gen Z are the most likely to say they purchase organic food “All the time” (20% for Millennials/Gen Z vs 8% for Gen X and 7% for Boomers).
- Sports fans (of any stripe) are slightly more likely than people saying “I don’t do sports” to choose organic. 49% vs 41%.
What kinds of organic products do people choose?
- Fresh fruits and vegetables are the most commonly purchased organic product category (84% saying they purchase), followed by fresh eggs (56%), fresh dairy (55%) and fresh meat (54%).
- Alcoholic beverages was the category with the fewest consumers saying they buy an organic option at least occasionally (10%).
- Notably, 42% of pet owners buy organic pet food or pet care products at least occasionally (that percentage is on-par with pet owners’ purchase of frozen fruits and vegetables, and outpaces purchase in all categories except fresh fruit and veg, dairy, fresh meat, eggs and packaged snacks). Pet owners are more likely to purchase organic pet food than organic beauty or self care products for themselves.
- 48% of all organic consumers say they’re open to any kind of organic product.
- Canned fruit and veg and alcoholic beverages both had the largest percentage of organic consumers saying they would “never” buy an organic version in this category (17% for each).
- Among the weirdest organic products consumers have purchased are toilet paper (2 people), feminine products (5 people) and all kinds of self-care products (shampoo, soap, deodorant, hair color and face cream…7 people). Organic junk food is also deemed by some as weird (12 people listed either candy, chocolate, chips, popcorn, pretzels or ice cream as a weird organic product they’d purchased). Organic tofu also seems to have a “weird” vibe to consumers… because it’s organic or because it’s tofu?
- Millennials buy organic more widely across categories, and are more inclined than their older counterparts to buy organic pasta, rice or other grains, canned fruit/veg, desserts/treats, prepared meals and non-alcoholic beverages. They are also more likely to buy organic household products/cleaners and organic beauty/self-care products.
- Average # of organic product categories for all organic consumers: 6.7
- Average # of organic product categories for Millennial/GenZ organic consumers: 7.5
- Average # of organic product categories for GenX and Boomers: 6.04
Why do people choose organic?
- 75% of organic consumers say they choose organic because it’s healthier for themselves or their families.
- The next closest reason (at a big distance) was because “it’s higher quality” at 45%.
- Quality/taste combined: 57% either say it tastes better or because it’s higher quality.
- 44% say they choose organic because it’s better for the environment.
- 34% of organic consumers say they choose organic because it’s better for the farmers and field workers.
What do people think of organic?
- The top 2 ideas consumers offered (unaided) as coming to mind when they hear the word ‘organic,’ were “healthy” (24%) and “expensive/pricey/overpriced” (24%).
- Following at a distant second were “fresh” and “natural” at 5%.
When do people choose organic?
- Dinner is the most popular eating occasion for consuming organic foods, with 67% of organic consumers saying dinner is a meal for which they are likely to consume organic foods. Lunch follows (62%), then breakfast (56%).
- Evening snack is the eating occasion for which consumers are least likely to consume organic food, with only 22% of organic consumers saying evening snack is an eating occasion for which they are likely to consume organic foods.
- For comparison, 35% of organic consumers say afternoon snack is an eating occasion when they’re likely to consume organic food, and 27% said morning snack was an organic eating occasion.
- 71% of household shoppers with children in the home say it would be somewhat or very important to them to feed their child’s classmates or teammates an organic snack if they were on snack duty.
- But only 52% of household shoppers say it would be somewhat or very important to them to include organic food at a dinner party they were hosting.
- Despite all the talk of New Year’s resolutions driving organic purchase, Thanksgiving and Winter holiday meals are the ones consumers say are most important to serve organic food. 20% of consumers who celebrate a winter holiday (Christmas, kwanzaa or Hanukkah) say it’s very important that some or all of the food they consume with their families is organic. 19% say the same for Thanksgiving. New Years follows at 15%.
- On the other end of the spectrum, only 13% of household shoppers who celebrate Labor Day say it’s very important to consume organic food on that day. (Same for Memorial Day).
- 48% of household shoppers say “no way” to organic Halloween candy, and 34% say yes only if it’s on sale.
For whom do people purchase organic?
- Household shoppers are a selfless bunch: They prioritize organic for just about everyone else in their household over themselves, except for pets and roommates.
- But pets are not far off! 16% of pet owners say it is “very important” that their pet(s) consume organic food.
- The importance of feeding one’s children organic food seems to decrease with age (the kids’ ages, not the parents’). 43% of parents of children ages 0-5 say that it’s “very important” that those children consume organic food, but only 29% of parents of children ages 11-18 say it’s “very important” that those children consume organic food. That number drops to 24% for grown children living at home.
- The 3-5 age range is the most important age range for organic food, according to consumers.
How is organic usage changing?
- 11% of household shoppers say the amount of organic foods they and their families consume has increased “a lot” in the past year and 22% say it has increased “somewhat.”
- Compare that with only 11% of household shoppers who report any kind of decrease in organic food consumption for their households.
- 40% of consumers say they plan to increase their household’s organic consumption in 2019, while only 11% say they plan to decrease it.
Other fun facts
- 88% of consumers who buy organic fresh produce say that “all fresh produce should be washed, whether it’s organic or not.” 5% say there isn’t any bad stuff to wash off organic produce, while 7% say it depends on the product.
- 24% of organic consumers say they are “loud and proud” about choosing organic. 10% keep it “under the radar,” and 66% say they are “easygoing” about sharing their organic ideals with others.
- Men are less inclined to talk about organic than women. 18% of male organic shoppers say they keep it “under the radar,” while only 7% of female organic shoppers keep their organic choices under the radar.
- Interestingly, only 8% of organic consumers in Mountain and Pacific states say they are “loud and proud” about their organic choices, while 36% of organic consumers in South Central states (KY,TN,AL,TX,OK,AR,MS, LA) are loud and proud.
- The biggest barrier to organic food is still price (or perceived price). 77% of say organic food is “too expensive.” The next closest barrier (coming in a distant second) is a lack of “good options available” at 21%.
Finish this sentence: I choose organic…
- because as I get older I realize how important it is to take good care of our bodies and planet. I hope to be here and going strong for a long time.
- because I am concerned that the products used to grow or raise our foods have been changed dramatically and we have been tricked by its taste to think it’s what they really taste like.
- because I care about me.
- Because I do what I want.
- because I think it’s healthier.
- because I want my family to eat healthy food that won’t make us sick and is more nutritious
- because I want to avoid artificial colors, flavors and GMOs.
- because it is chic today.
- because it is good for me at my age I need all the help I can get!!!
- because it makes me feel better about myself and it actually tastes good
- because it was produced in a less environmentally harmful manner.
- Because it’s good for my dogs.
- Because it’s what I’ve grown up with.
- BECAUSE ITS THE BEST WAY TO NOURISH MY BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT!
- Cause I like to have that fresh taste burst in my mouth from all natural and organic fruits and veggies.
- i loveeee organic.
- to avoid added chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones.
- to keep away from additives/pesticides.
- to limit harmful chemicals in my system.
- to save the family and the planet.
- to support more sustainable food production practices.
- For my daughter in law.