Food labelled as organic is likely to come under increased scrutiny this decade as consumers seeking natural products demand greater transparency, according to data and analytics firm GlobalData.

A recent survey by the London-based business – just-food’s parent company – found 49% of consumers associated the term organic with natural foods and Carmen Bryan, a consumer analyst at GlobalData, said the growing popularity of better-for-you products will bring the “credibility” of organic certifications into the spotlight. 

“This association between organic and natural could come under threat as the new decade brings further pressures for clean and sustainable labels, particularly in an increasingly informed global industry,” Bryan said. “Although organic farming has been hailed as superior to conventional farming, there is evidence to suggest that in certain cases it is as harmful, if not more so, to the environment.”

The two main considerations are the pesticides used in agriculture, some of which have been discovered to be as toxic to the environment as synthetic ones, and the requirement for more land, which encourages deforestation, leading to reduced storage capacity of carbon in soils and subsequently, higher CO2 emissions.

According to GlobalData’s 2019 third-quarter consumer survey, 60% of global respondents find produce with a low-carbon footprint appealing, reflecting the need for transparency and “eco-friendly positioning”.

Bryan added: “With ethical issues continuing to gain traction and movements such as Veganuary raising awareness among the general public, issues surrounding the sustainability and impact of organic farming are unlikely to stay hidden.”