IGD is holding its second conference on organic food on 15th November. Currently the 'hot' food industry topic, is organic food really the answer or will the bubble eventually burst?

IGD's Dr Richard Hutchins, Business Manager, Consumer Unit, said "Organic is currently a brand with strong positive values attached to it. Many consumers instinctively believe it will be safer and healthier to eat than non-organic food. Although it is perceived to offer a variety of benefits, few seem to understand why or if these benefits really exist. Our research suggests that this perception is based mainly on image, rather than real consumer knowledge.

"The challenge for industry is to explain the pros and cons of all production methods in a clearer way. This event will discuss ways in which industry can work together to improve the offer, and provide consumers with balanced information. This all needs to be done in the context of developing a wider, more accurate framework to alleviate any concerns about food production.

Simon Brenman, Agricultural Development Director, The Soil Association added "We welcome the opportunity for people to find out more about the current state of the organic market at this timely and important conference. It will be of particular interest to hear the Italian and German perspectives."

Speakers at the conference will include Eastbrook Farms Organic Meat, EHI (Germany), Federazione Nazionale delle Produzioni Biologiche di Confagricoltura (Italy), HiPP Nutrition, Organics-on-Line, Soil Association, Unipower Systems, Taylor Nelson Sofres, Waitrose and IGD.

The August edition of IGD's Consumer Watch series focuses on consumer views of food production and one section examines views on organic foods.

This national survey indicated that consumers perceive four main benefits of organic food.
  • 36% thought it was healthier to eat

  • 36% thought it was safer to eat

  • 34% thought that the absence of pesticides benefited the environment

  • 25% thought it led to improved taste
Many consumers IGD spoke to had positive perceptions of organic food, although few of them actually bought it. For example, 25% of consumers thought the main advantage of organic food was improved taste; this view was strongest in the 45-54 age group and the higher social classes. The group discussions suggest that this expectation is not necessarily based on experience, since many of the consumers had not tried organic food. It seems to have become an 'accepted fact'.


For further information please contact Jane Whiteley, tel: 01923 851917, mobile 0802 437579, Jane Beard 01923 851910 mobile 07770 640448 or Catherine Ellwood, tel: 01923 857141.

EDITORS' NOTES
  1. The Organic Food Conference will take place on Wednesday 15th November at the Rutherford Conference Centre, Institute of Physics, 76 Portland Place, London W1. Fees are £300 for Company Members and £400 for Non-members. Contact the Conference Department on 01923 857141, fax 01923 852531 or email conferences@igd.com to book a place. Booking is also available on-line at www.igd.com

  2. Consumer Watch is a bi-monthly report examining consumer attitudes to food issues. It is available from IGD at £400 for non-members and £300 for members for the full set.

  3. IGD is the leading research and education organisation for the food and grocery industry. Its membership is drawn from the total grocery supply chain, including retail, manufacturing, wholesale, distribution, catering, packaging companies and primary producers. IGD also has close links with consumer organisations.