A report in last week’s Sunday Star Times claims Kiwis are increasingly tightening the purse-strings and organic fruit and veggies are disappearing off the shopping list, due to the economic recession.
The newspaper recently polled more than 700 people, asking them if they believed the benefits of organic produce outweighed the extra costs. Only 26% agreed, while 61% thought there were no added benefits from organic fruit and vegetables.
But the newspaper balanced its story by quoting Soil and Health Association spokesman Steffan Browning, who said while organic food might cost more, it was worth it.
“Many consumers buy on price, and while there’s a perception prices are going up, and there is a disincentive around organics, there is more bang for your buck both with health benefits and in the reduction of pesticides in our food,” Mr Browning is quoted as saying.
The poll showed just 2% of shoppers buy exclusively organic produce, while a further 12% regularly purchase organic fruit and veggies.
But most shoppers avoid organic – with more than half either rarely or never buying organic, and those who do admitted their shopping habits were affected by price.
However, supermarkets say while organics may be a small market, sales have increased. Progressive’s Luke Schepen says there has been growth, particularly in organic breakfast cereals and spreads. “We are still seeing growth. Quarter on quarter, we’ve seen more than 10% growth in organics as consumers look for foods that are good for them. When it comes to making food choices, health and wellness are at the top of people’s considerations.”
Lincoln University’s marketing associate professor Charley Lamb says studies show there is a small but dedicated market for organics. “When organics were at a conventional price they competed with conventional products, but when it went above that, it was in a market segment all of its own. And that segment was relatively price insensitive. You could put the price at two or three times that of the conventional market and the demand didn’t change much.
“For dedicated organic purchasers, their purchasing patterns haven’t changed at all,” Prof Lamb says.
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