COVID-19 may drive concern about food standards, which can benefit foods with a high quality image, like organics

In the five year period between October 2015 and September 2020, the percentage of global food and drink products with an organic claim increased approximately from 9% to 11%, according to Mintel GNPD. Organic food and drink, despite their higher price points, may continue to prove popular with consumers during the ‘next normal’ under the shadow of COVID-19.

Indeed, 67% of Chinese consumers and 40% of US consumers think that an impact of the COVID-19/coronavirus outbreak will be that ‘higher quality products’ will be most important to them when choosing food going forward1. 27% of US consumers buy organic food and drink because they are higher in overall quality9

51% of South Korean consumers agree that proof that a product is produced in a safe and hygienic environment is an important quality in food/drink post-COVID4. Some consumers believe that organic food are superior on food safety grounds, with 23% of German consumers agree that high food safety standards are the reason they buy organic food and drink8

 

Consumer interest in health, the environment, and food safety, suggests an opportunity for organics to thrive

COVID-19 is drawing new attention to health, food safety, and the environment – attributes that consumers associate with organic food and drink, hence, organics should thrive during the ‘next normal’ under the shadow of COVID-19. 

For example, 46% of Brazilian consumers agree the environment has become a higher priority for them since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak2. 22% of German consumers agree that eating healthily has become a higher priority to them since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak3.

‘Organic’ delivers a superior image where health is concerned

Consumers’ definition of health extends beyond basic nutritional attributes, with many consumers believing that attributes linked to naturalness, such as organic, or clean ingredients lists, are healthier than conventional foods or those that contain artificial ingredients, as examples. 

74% of Chinese consumers think that organic food is healthier than non-organic food5 and 55% of US organic consumers purchase organics because they consider them healthier6. 42% of Spanish consumers agree they buy organic food and drink for health reasons7.

Consumer interest in clean labels, coupled with demand for ‘clean eating, can open opportunities for organic food and drink. 41% of US consumers buy organic food and drink to avoid artificial ingredients for example8. Where ‘clean’ is concerned, producers can look further than ingredient groups such as artificial colours or preservatives, and consider ‘unwanted substances’ further down the supply chain. Organics, again, resonate positively from this perspective, with 39% of US consumers agreeing they buy organic food and drink to avoid pesticides, and 31% to avoid genetically modified organisms10. 42% of Italian consumers agree they buy organic food and drink to avoid pesticides, chemicals and hormones, and 28% to avoid genetically modified organisms11.

Organic food and drink is well placed to appeal to consumers as ‘clean and green’, which should prove attractive as consumer interest in planetary health grows

Ingredients that support planetary health as well as human health should become sought after by food and drink brands, as attention to the impact that the food and drink we eat has on the health of the planet grows. Health departments are starting to devise dietary guidelines that consider the health and of planet on equal terms to our own health. Consumers are expecting action from food and drink brands, with 48% of US consumers agree that brands/companies should do what's best for the earth, even if it's less profitable14, for example. 

 

Organic foods are well placed to thrive as ‘better for me, better for the planet’ foods. 46% of French consumers and 33% of German consumers agree that they buy organic food and drink because they are better for the environment15. 58% of Brazilian consumers consider products developed with natural/organic ingredients to be sustainable16

Organic for health reasons

74%

Chinese consumers think organic is healthier

55%

US consumers consider organic products healthier

42%

Spanish consumers buy organic food & drink for health reasons

Next generation organic can support champion people as well as the planet

Organic food and drink products can look beyond the health and environmental benefits consumers already link with organic claims, by promoting credible and measurable efforts to be champions of people. For example, by supporting farmers and economies (near and afar), producers can demonstrate the ethics of their business, and promote their ‘clean conscience’.

Next generation organic food and drink can deliver messaging around health, the environment - and people. Food and drink brands can deliver ‘for the people and the planet’ messaging by combining organic with ethical certification schemes that champion people, such as the Fairtrade certification scheme.

Indeed, consumers are interested in a wide range of ethical initiatives. 24% of Japanese consumers agree that supporting local suppliers is an ethical factor that influences their food and drink choices12. 37% of Finnish consumers and 36% of South African consumers agree that supporting fair payment for growers/farmers is an ethical factor that influences their food and drink choices13. Consumer interest in food ethics suggests an opportunity for products that are certified to third party ethical schemes, such as the Fairtrade scheme, and for example, 30% of UK consumers agree they are most likely to buy a product that was fair trade certified17.

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1 Base: China/US: 1,000 internet users aged 18+ in each country. Source: China: KuRunData/Mintel, US: Lightspeed/Mintel
Base: Brazilian internet users aged 16+, May 16-28 2020. Source: Lightspeed/Mintel
Base: Germany: 1,000 internet users age 16+. Source: Lightspeed/Mintel
4 Base: South Korea: 1,000 internet users aged 18+. Source: Dynata/Mintel
Base: China: 3,000 internet users aged 18-49, Source: KuRunData/Mintel
6 Base: US: 782 internet users aged 18+ who purchase organic food or beverages, Source: Lightspeed/Mintel 
7 Base: Spain: 1,494 internet users aged 16+ who buy organic food and drink products, Source: Lightspeed/Mintel
8 Base: US: 782 internet users aged 18+ who purchase organic food or beverages. Source: Lightspeed/Mintel
9 Base: Spain: 1,494 internet users aged 16+ who buy organic food and drink products, Source: Lightspeed/Mintel
10 Base: US: 782 internet users aged 18+ who purchase organic food or beverages. Source: Lightspeed/Mintel
11 Base: Italy: 1,661 internet users aged 16+ who buy organic food and drink products. Source: Lightspeed/Mintel 
12 Base: Japan: 1,000 internet users aged 18+. Source: Rakuten Insight/Mintel
13 Base: Finland: 1,000 internet users aged 16+, South African: 1,000 internet users aged 18+. Source: Lightspeed/Mintel
14 Base: US: 2,000 internet users aged 18+, Source: Lightspeed/Mintel
15 Base: Germany: 1,573 internet users aged 16+ who buy organic food and drink products, France: 1,536 internet users aged 16+ who buy organic food and drink products. Source: Lightspeed/Mintel 
16 Base: Brazil: 1,500 internet users aged 16+. Source: Lightspeed/Mintel 
17 Base: UK: 2,000 internet users aged 16+, Source: Lightspeed/Mintel

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