Posts Tagged “organic”

Appearance Important When Buying Produce

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007NEW YORK, N.Y. –  Appearance.  No matter how many times we’ve been told not to judge a book by its cover, waiting to pass judgement on something until after we get past its outside has never been an easy task for people to accomplish. Whether it’s what we’re reading or who we’re meeting, people have a tendency to set expectations based on surface assessment. But does the same hold true for what we eat? According to a recent Harris Poll, about eight in ten Americans (81%) confirm that appearance (i.e., not blemished or misshapen in any way) is at least somewhat important to them when shopping for fresh produce (i.e., fruits and vegetables), with 43% saying it is very or extremely important.

When listed alongside other fresh produce descriptors, appearance proved to be more important than provenance (i.e., locally grown or sourced), the retailer’s food waste practices, and organic. However, the price and seasonality are more likely to be important to a purchaser than appearance.

“Whether ‘ugly’ or not, produce is on the rise, up 5% in U.S. dollar sales in the latest 52 weeks ending July 30, 2016,” said Jen Campuzano, Director Fresh Perishables at Nielsen. “Choosing healthier and more natural products has become a priority for households across the country. For some, this means transparency in labeling, opting for foods with basic ingredient lists or embracing fruits and vegetables, blemishes and all.”

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,025 U.S. adults aged 18+ and surveyed online between August 10 and 12, 2016.

Ugly produce

Despite the weight Americans place on appearance, more than three in five adults (62%) say they would be at least somewhat comfortable eating “ugly produce,” that is, fruit or vegetables that may be misshapen but otherwise taste the same. Moreover, three quarters of adults (76%) would expect to pay less for “ugly produce,” while a fifth (20%) could see paying the same as usual.

Despite professed comfort with eating ugly produce, fewer than three in ten Americans (28%) recall buying “ugly produce” in the past year, compared to 51% who are sure they did not and 21% who are not sure either way. And of those who bought “ugly produce,” six in ten (61%) did so for the price discount.

Food waste

While the primary reason Americans bought “ugly produce” was price, the runner up answer from more than a fifth (22%) of purchasers was that they wanted to reduce food waste. Americans estimate that, typically, 10% of the groceries they buy are wasted, that is, spoil or go bad before they can be eaten. Over eight in ten Americans (84%) are at least somewhat concerned about the issue of food waste, primarily because they would like to be less wasteful (62%).

So how do Americans believe we can reduce household food waste? Nearly half (46%) of adults believe better storage for fresh produce is the key to waste reduction, followed closely by more than 2 in 5 (42%) who advocate buying less food, more frequently. Another 38% believe the solution is better meal planning, while 35% say it would help if smaller package sizes were available in the grocery store.

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Fresh Produce Importance in Stores is Cited

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DSCN7593Supermarkets remain a “powerhouse in fresh,” despite an ever-growing variety of food shopping outlets, especially fresh produce, which resides as a “supermarket stronghold” among 68 percent of shoppers.

According to Anne-Marie Roerink, who reviewed the results of the Food Marketing Institute’s second annual Power of Produce report, Supercenters (16 percent) are the second most popular outlet for fresh produce purchases, followed next by warehouse clubs (5 percent).

Highlights of this year’s produce shopper study found nearly 25 percent of shoppers switch outlets when purchasing fresh produce versus the bulk of groceries, primarily to full-service supermarkets, farmers’ markets/produce stands and specialty organic stores.

Roerink, principal of 210 Analytics, which prepared the “mega trends” produce study, warned that younger generations are drawn to alternative channels.  She sees this as  “a red flag for traditional retailers, as losing the produce basket may result in losing additional spending in center store.”

Ringing up a whopping $61 billion in annual sales, fresh produce is in hot demand with no signs of a slow down.  Powered by a 4 percent growth rate, the category is a lucrative and influential element for grocery baskets, which average nearly $30 more with fresh produce than one without.

Beyond price, the most successful incremental produce purchase drivers, per the Power of Produce study, include:

  • Eye-catching displays, which are extremely influential
  • Produce cross-merchandised in other parts of the store
  • Impulse through ideation, including recipes, serving ideas and sampling
  • Education/information, especially nutrition call-outs that are relevant to the audience

Notably, consumers are placing increased value on transparency – how and where the crop was grown – as evidenced by how support for the local farmers/economy overtook perceived freshness as the top reason for buying locally-grown. This sentiment also applies double-digit sales gains for organic fresh produce and an expressed need for “free-from” products. Still, organic remains a niche segment to date, according to the Power of Produce consumer research study, reflecting 8 percent of total produce sales, with usage skewing to the more affluent shoppers and families with children.

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Organic More Popular with Shoppers Under 35 Years Old

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DSCN2923If you are under 35 years of age, you are twice as likely to buy more organic over the next year than older counterparts, according to new IGD research.

Some 18 per cent of this age group want to use specialist stores, like butchers and greengrocers, more in the future compared to only nine per cent of the over-35 age group.

Shoppers aged under 35 are also more likely than their older counterparts to shop ethically and cook from scratch.

And almost 30 per cent of under 35s think they will be better off in a year’s time.

Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of IGD, said these trends provide opportunities for retailers and food manufacturers to target younger shoppers with marketing and new products that will chime with their more optimistic outlook.

She said: “As well as wanting to do the right thing, younger people are more interested in cooking from scratch, using leftovers to waste less, and spending more on food and drink to make a nice meal if they have spare money at the end of the month.

“It’s encouraging that younger people are so optimistic about the future and also more likely to want to make a difference to the world. Shoppers under 35 are more interested in considering a retailer’s values and approach to sourcing products.”

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Website Covers Safe Fruits and Vegetables

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A recent Stanford University nutritional comparison study has generated intense consumer interest about the differences between conventionally and organically grown fruits and vegetables.  But, a website – – was created specifically for consumers who are interested in science based information and perspectives about the safety of both conventional and organic produce.
“The Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) wanted to create an information resource for people so that they can make educated shopping decisions for themselves and their families,” says Marilyn Dolan, Executive Director for the AFF.  “We think the information presented on will reassure consumers that they can choose either organic or conventionally grown products with confidence.  The science and the facts support that both production systems are very safe,” Dolan explains.
The website features information from experts in the fields of toxicology, nutrition, risk analysis, consumer attitudes, organic and conventional pesticide usage trends and farming.  “One of the most popular features is the calculator function on the website,” Dolan says. This function allows consumers to click on who they are (man, woman, teenager or child) and then select their favorite fruit or vegetable.  The tool then calculates the number of servings you would have to eat in a day and still not see any effect from pesticide residues.  “The calculations show a consumer would literally have to eat hundreds to thousands of servings  – no matter if you are an adult or a child – and still not see any health impact from pesticide residues,” Dolan adds.
The calculator function and corresponding report was developed using information from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Pesticide Data Program.  The USDA’s monitoring data was analyzed by Dr. Robert Krieger, a toxicologist who heads the Personal Chemical Exposure Program at University of California, Riverside. It should be noted that Dr. Krieger was asked to analyze the highest residue levels found by USDA.
Another report “Scared Fat” features new consumer research results concerning how fear based messaging and marketing tactics are actually becoming a barrier to consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables, especially among low income consumers.  “The survey showed that almost 10% of low income consumers stated they would reduce consumption of fruits and vegetables after hearing commonly used messaging that calls into question the safety of fruits and vegetables,” Dolan says.
Dolan points out that this month the USDA’s Economic Research Service issued a report that showed 10% of American households were not able to provide their children with “adequate, nutritious” food at times during 2011.  “The USDA report illustrates the real issue,” Dolan says. “Low income consumers already struggle to put healthy and nutritious foods on their tables.  This is why reassurance that more affordable produce is nutritious and safe is of crucial importance if we are to improve the diets of Americans and lower obesity rates.  Misguided  safety fears cannot become another barrier to increasing consumption of the very foods that health experts say we should be eating more of,” Dolan explains.
Other popular sections on the website include “Ask the Experts,” which features videos of farmers explaining how they control pests and diseases on their organic and conventional farms, a list of the most popular fruits and veggies with explanations on their nutritional value, regular blog postings and consumer food safety tips.
“These are only a few examples of the information that can be found on and there is just so much more,” Dolan explains.  “We hope provides consumers with a place that they can go to read and learn more so they can make educated shopping choices,” Dolan says.  “But we also hope that this information helps them to include more fruits and vegetables in their diets with confidence.”
The Alliance for Food and Farming is a non-profit organization formed in 1989 which represents organic and conventional farmers and farms of all sizes.  Alliance contributors are limited to farmers of fruits and vegetables, companies that sell, market or ship fruits and vegetables or organizations that represent produce farmers.  Our mission is to deliver credible information to consumers about the safety of all fruits and vegetables.  We do not engage in lobbying nor do we accept any money or support from the pesticide industry.  In the interest of transparency, our entire 2011 tax return is posted on

Source: Alliance for Food and Farming

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Is Organic Really Better than Conventional Produce?

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Published research from Stanford University reafirms what I have believed to be true for years.  While organic fresh fruits and vegetables are touted by many to be more safe and more nutritious than conventional fresh produce, findings do not support that popular notion.

What you often can count on is organic produce costing more than regularly grown produce.  While the research affirms the fact that certified organic produce has less pesticide residues than conventional food, it is no big deal.  The pesticide residues on conventional produce are well within Federal requirements.  These residues are so low they are not harmful.

I have met and got to know many large, commerical growers of produce over the years.  They are for the most part, good, honest, decent people.  They have families and would never intentionally risk the lives of consumers or their families or friends by excessively using pesticides and other chemicals.

The research was published September 4 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Does organic produce taste better than convention produce?  Sometimes, sometimes not.   It is similar to buying a branded fruit or vegetable versus a generic brand in your supermarket.  The branded item may cost more, but by no means is it assured of tasting better than a similar non-branded product.

Over the decades less and less pesticides have been used on conventional fresh fruits and vegetables, as technology and advances in agriculture have progressed.  A noble goal is that someday it will be economically viable to grow fresh produce without the use of any chemicals.

Meanwhile, I will continue to base my produce shopping decisions on quality and price.  — Bill Martin








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