Thursday, October 27, 2011

Organic Foods: The Face Behind the Product

Organic foods have made inroads on supermarket shelves in the last decade, but not necessarily for the reason you think. While consumer demand does regulate supply to a 
certain extent, much of the shelf space is taken up (and possibly paid for) by Big Business.

According to the Organic Trade Association, U.S. sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion in 2010. While that is a significant growth in an industry that had previously been relegated to small health food stores, it is really just a drop in the bucket: those same sales only represent approximately 4 percent of overall food and beverage sales in 2010. 

But the year-over-year growth of the market has attracted significant attention from large food manufacturers, such as General Mills, Kraft, Heinz, Kellogg, Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Attention means money, for small food manufacturers to grow and to help deliver precious shelf space. In fact, in 2010 mass market retailers (mainstream supermarkets, club/warehouse stores, and mass merchandisers) sold 54 percent of organic food.

The Name Game

While many traditional food manufacturers have introduced their own new labels in the organic food field, they have also diversified by buying up successful, long-standing organic brands.

It’s not enough to just slap the word “organic” on a label—as is the case with Campbell’s Organic, Kellogg’s Organic, Dole Organic, Kraft Organic, etc. That tactic may convert some existing customers, but probably will not win over die-hard enthusiasts who have longstanding brand loyalty.

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