Study shows millennials are big organic consumers

By Bill Tomson

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

BALTIMORE, Sept. 22, 2016 - It turns out that millennials, perhaps the most important generation in terms of retail sales, are big consumers of organic food and other products, according to new study results announced today by the Organic Trade Association.

About 52 percent of household heads that buy organic food are millennials in the prized 18- to-34-year-old age group, the study concluded.

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 “That's huge and it means we've got a good future ahead of us,” Organic Trade Association CEO Laura Batcha said today at the group's All Things Organic Conference in Baltimore.

Behind millennials, 35 percent of household heads that buy organic are in the Generation X category of 35 to 50 years old and 14 percent are baby boomers, 51 to 69 years old.

“The millennial consumer and head of household is changing the landscape of our food industry,” said Batcha. “Our survey shows that millennial parents seek out organic because they are more aware of the benefits of organic, that they place a greater value on knowing how their food was grown and produced and that they are deeply committed to supporting a food system that sustains and nurtures the environment.”

The survey didn't look at the entirety of millennials - now 75 million strong - in the U.S., but rather household heads that do the family shopping.

The survey, which hasn't been published yet in full, also shows that 54 percent of millennials put a high level of trust in the organic seal on food and that's extremely important to the sector, Batcha said.

That level of trust that consumers are getting food that is truly free of genetically modified ingredients and comes from animals that were not treated with antibiotics corresponds with shoppers knowing more about what the label means, OTA officials said.

The survey also reported that 77 percent of American consumers consider themselves “very knowledgeable” about organic qualities.

One concern of the OTA as it conducted the study was whether the younger millennial generation still believed the organic seal was relevant to them or weather it had become “stodgy.”

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The answer, OTA officials said today, should be reassuring to farmers and others in the organic industry. Some outlying responses to questions in the survey about descriptions of organic program included “dated” and “old-fashioned,” but at the core of the most popular responses were words like “credible,” high quality” and “relevant.”

The good news from the generational survey follows up on the results of study released in May that shows the organic industry posted record sales in 2015 of $43.3 billion, an 11 percent increase from $39.7 billion in 2014.


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