The belief that natural, organic and humane agricultural practices produce foods that are healthier, tastier or more nutritious is widespread among the general adult population. These convictions, especially among consumers who seek out products with a "clean" label, combined with rising concerns over food safety, have caused a notable shift in behavior when purchasing foods and beverages.
Market research firm Packaged Facts released a report, “Organic & Clean Label Food Consumer in the U.S.,” revealing that more than half (53%) of adults say they are buying more natural and organic foods than ever before, and nearly half are buying more organic foods through standard supermarkets as organic selections have expanded.
The study examined the dynamics of the current organic and clean-label landscape, including shifts in consumer usage rates, cross-usage, psychographics and demographics. The reasons for and implications of these shifts were analyzed in the context of future market opportunities for product manufacturers as well as for retail channels, including private-label and internet opportunities.
“Many consumers ascribe positive attributes to clean-label foods, even if they don’t personally partake,” Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle said. “The food industry has seen a rise in adults who believe that various food products that are natural, boast organic or animal welfare credentials or make other claims to clean-label status taste better, are healthier, are more nutritious or are better for the environment.”
In painting a picture of the archetypal clean-label consumer, Packaged Facts’ research found that the consumer of organic/clean-label products tends to be informed, curious and engaged, active in the management of his or her own health and wellness and often highly educated and accomplished professionally. However, the study also found that there is a powerful emotional component to clean-label consumerism.
“It’s personal,” Sprinkle explained. “It means connecting to the community and to the world, making choices that are possibly values driven or perhaps inspired by nostalgia for a simpler time and advocating for the well-being of animals raised for food, of growers in developing countries or of the planet.”
It can be empowering to those with this mentality, he added.
Further, Packaged Facts found that the following demographic features are seen disproportionately in organic and clean-label consumers:
- Being a Millennial or younger Generation Xer;
- Being of Hispanic or Asian ethnicity;
- Residing in the Northeast or Pacific regions of the U.S.;
- Possessing an advanced academic degree (beyond college);
- Having children present in the household, particularly younger children, and
- Having an annual household income of $100,000 or more.