Whole Foods Study Points toward Strength in Organic Foods

Whole Foods Study Points toward Strength in Organic Foods


It’s survey time. This week, Whole Foods Market released the results of its annual Food Shopping Trends Tracker, an online survey conducted by Harris Interactive in June 2010. Notable results include the following:

  • 72% of adults don’t want to compromise on the quality of the food they buy regardless of price
  • 75% of adults purchase natural & organic foods, up from 73% in 2009
  • 27% of adults now incorporate natural & organic foods into at least 25% of their total food purchase, up from 20% in 2009

On that last bullet point, a seven-percentage-point increase indicates real traction behind natural & organic’s ability to penetrate consumer consciousness and drive healthier purchasing decisions.

More specific consumer habits also came to light among a sampling of Baby Boomers. When asked about the items most often stocked in your pantry or refrigerator back in 1980, and the items stocked now, a clear trend toward nutrition and wellness emerged.

Top Items in 1980:

  • Milk (89%)
  • Canned or frozen vegetables (83%)
  • White bread (74%)
  • Soda (74%)
  • Iceberg lettuce (66%)

Top Items in 2010

  • Fresh fruit (83%)
  • Milk (82%)
  • Fresh vegetables (79%)
  • Wheat or whole-grain bread (77%)
  • Canned or frozen vegetables (69%)

“There has been a sea change these past 30 years in shopper attitudes toward food with a growing appetite for information on how and where food is produced to what’s in the food and how it impacts health,” said Michael Besacon, Senior Vice President at Whole Foods, in a statement. This September, Whole Foods will celebrate its 30th anniversary as a leading supermarket for natural & organic foods.

NBJ Bottom Line 

Happy birthday, old chum. What better way to ring in such an important milestone than clear and compelling evidence that consumers want the very products you support, stock and sell. While NBJ has its own ample evidence to demonstrate the real fundamental changes at work in the larger food industry—changes that range from product development at CPGs moving away from conventional merchandise, to above-average growth rates for natural & organic foods in any number of categories—the top-items analysis above is particularly colorful. There appears to be a strong substitution pattern at play as consumers migrate from iceberg lettuce to mixed greens, and from white bread to whole-grain bread. We apparently still love milk, and we still need frozen and canned vegetables in a pinch, but look at the shift in that final item. For soda to drop out of the top five, only to be replaced by fresh fruit, well, what better birthday present could we ask for than that?

NBJ is working now on our next issue, a focused look at the consumer, consumer research and the forces at work shaping consumer preferences for nutrition products. Look for it later in September, or subscribe now though our website.

Related NBJ links:

2010 Healthy Foods Report

Whole Foods Cracks Down on ‘Organic’ Personal Care Products

Natural & Organic Foods Data Charts

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