Despite more organic food and beverage products on grocery store shelves, all is not healthy in the world of pesticide-free, additive-free edibles.
Despite more organic food and beverage products on grocery store shelves, all is not healthy in the world of pesticide-free, additive-free edibles. The trend is hot right now, but consumer and product researcher Mintel predicts that market growth rates for organic food and beverages will slow.
Organic/natural products rank only behind whole grains among dietary trends in the in-store bakery, according to Modern Baking's 2008 Supermarket Bakery Research published in June this year. From 2006 to 2008, the percentage of in-store bakers posting sales gains in organic products doubled. The market for organic foods overall should reach $7.2 billion this year, an increase of 140 percent from the $3 billion recorded during 2003, according to Mintel market data. But year-over-year, Mintel has seen sales growth slowing. With many Americans struggling financially, the company projects sales of organic foods will not rally anytime soon.
“Economic uncertainty has deeply affected people's shopping habits,” said Marcia Mogelonsky, senior analyst at Mintel. “Americans are spending less, and ‘organic versus traditional’ is a decision many people are thinking about carefully.”
She sees two major cost-related challenges for organic bakers: rising food prices and private label brands. “To cope, many shoppers are simply opting not to buy pricey organic or premium brands,” Mogelonsky says.
People also are saving money by reaching for private label organics, which have exploded in recent years. Mintel's Global New Product Database (GNPD) tracked over 540 new private label organic foods in 2007, a massive increase from the 35 new products seen in 2003. Furthermore, when Mintel asked consumers about the difference between name brand and private label organics, 60 percent said it didn't matter; they reached for “whatever is available” when shopping.
“Economic struggles will undoubtedly change the way organic food and drink is sold. But we don't expect people to completely stop buying organics,” Mogelonsky said. “We anticipate more subtle changes, such as the formerly all-organic shopper who returns to traditional cookie brands while sticking with organic produce. These small changes will slow market growth.”
A new National Restaurant Association (NRA) survey indicates that nutrition and philosophy-driven food choices will be the hottest trends on restaurant menus in 2009. The survey was taken of more than 1,600 professional chef members of the American Culinary Federation.
The results show that consumers aren't only focusing on the physical characteristics of their food, but also are taking into consideration where it comes from, how it impacts the environment and their health and how well it fits into their personal worldview. For this type of consumer, the quality of the end product is not the only variable in the purchasing equation.
“As the wider trend of ‘health’ continues to grow, the trend of choosing certain foods to follow one's personal philosophy has also gained momentum in the culinary world,” said Dawn Sweeney, president and C.E.O. of the NRA. “As interest in food and the culinary arts grows in the United States, consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about the food they eat.”
Bakers can prepare for food-savvy customers by being as transparent as possible with their production and sourcing. Ample signage and a knowledgeable staff will help to communicate the product's story, from wheat field to display case.
Local produce, bite-size desserts, organics, healthful childrens' meals, and new cuts of meat top the third annual “What's Hot” chef survey. Rounding out the top 10 trends are childrens' fruit and vegetable side dishes, superfruits, small plates/tapas/mezze/dim sum, artisan liquor and sustainable seafood.