US consumers have shown a surprising lack of interest in organic when considering foods based on health-related benefits and characteristics, according to a study published yesterday (22 June).

The study by novaQuant instead said that whole grain is the number one food benefit sought by adults, followed by high fibre, low fat, low cholesterol, and high in antioxidants. Organics was the lowest ranked of the 17 health-related benefits and characteristics measured in the survey. Only 16% of consumers define themselves as “regular” organic shoppers.

“The relatively low consumer interest in organic versus other food claims suggests that it might be a while before organic foods can be considered mainstream,” said Jay Gangi, a partner at novaQuant.

Data from the study suggested that high prices, a lack of clarity on the benefits of organics, little trust in organic labelling, and limited product assortment are all current inhibitors to faster category adoption. There are also a small percentage of consumers who say that being organic makes food taste worse (15%).
Meanwhile, consumers demonstrated interest in learning more about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. This suggests some continued growth in these areas, as most consumers admit that they do not eat healthily or exercise regularly, but still want the benefits of good health and hope to obtain some of them through their food choices.

The US-based survey was conducted online among men and women between the ages of 18-64.