Gender, Age Affect Natural, Organic Preferences: Study

CHICAGO -- As natural and organic foods continue to grow in popularity, but they are growing in different ways for different consumers research by foodservice consultants Technomic based here found that women place significantly more importance on being able to select from a wide variety of natural, organic and sustainable food offerings when shopping for food or dining out - although overall interest was strong for both men and women.

Technomic says the findings suggest, among other things, that marketing campaigns for "healthy" food categories may find greater success if targeted by gender. The market researcher said the survey was prompted by growing interest in understanding and meeting consumers' demands for healthy food options, especially in foodservice venues. Products labeled as natural or organic have seen double-digit sales growth in recent years and now represent close to $21 billion annually.

"One of our more compelling findings is that younger consumers seem to have a stronger affinity for natural, organic and sustainable menu items," said Darren Tristano, Technomic Information Services' e.v.p. Even though older Americans have particular concerns about health and specific diet-related health issues, they may represent the slowest adopters of organic and natural foods, said Tristano.

Seven out of 10 survey respondents (71 percent) associate items menued as natural, organic and sustainable with the idea of healthfulness, and nearly as many (62 percent) connect them with using the freshest ingredients. However, only 41 percent associate organic, natural and sustainable ingredients with a perception of quality. Even fewer associate "good taste" with these items, and only 18 percent see them as good values.

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