Large Majorities See Organic Food as Safer, Better for the Environment And Healthier But Also More Expensive

Those Who Eat a Lot of Organic Food Also Think It Tastes Better and is Worth the Extra Cost

ROCHESTER, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Those who buy organic food regularly are still a small minority, but a growing one. Organic food is seen by most people as safer, better for the environment and healthier, but more expensive. Most organic food buyers overwhelmingly believe it tastes better and is worth the extra cost.

These are some of the findings of a Harris Poll of 2,392 adults surveyed online between September 11 and 18, 2007 by Harris Interactive®.

The main findings are:

  • Only seven percent of all adults report buying organic food “all or most of the time.” A further 31 percent say they buy it occasionally;
  • Some segments of the population are more likely to buy organic foods regularly: college graduates (11%), Liberals (11%), Westerners (10%), Echo Boomers (those aged 18-30; 10%), and Gen Xers (those aged 31-42; 9%);
  • Those who buy organics (including those who only buy it occasionally and rarely) report that their organic purchases are much more likely to have increased (32%) than to have decreased (5%); evidence that organic food consumption has been rising;
  • The very large majorities of the public believe that organic food is safer for the environment (79%) and healthier (76%). Almost all frequent organic food buyers believe this (92% and 98% respectively);
  • Most (86%) frequent organic food buyers also think it tastes better, but only 39 percent of all adults think this way;
  • Almost everyone (95% of the public, including 88% of frequent organic food buyers) believes organic food is more expensive;
  • About a third (36%) of the public, including almost all (91%) frequent organic food buyers, believes that “organic food is much better for you” and that “the extra expense is worth it to have better food.” A smaller 29 percent of the public believe it is “a waste of money as it is no better for you than conventional foods.” Fully 36 percent are not sure.

So What?

The many people who have positive attitudes to organic food suggest that the increase in consumption of organic food is likely to continue and, in a few years time, could account for a much larger share of the food market.

TABLE 1

REGULAR ORGANIC FOOD BUYERS ARE ONLY A SMALL MINORITY

“How often do you purchase organic food?”

 

Base:  All Adults

 
 
Total
%
All the time
1
Most of the time
6
Occasionally
31
Rarely
33
Never
26
Not sure
3

TABLE 2

WHO BUYS ORGANIC FOOD? (ALL OR MOST OF THE TIME)

“How often do you purchase organic food?”

 

Base:  All Adults

 
 
Total
%
All Adults
7
Region
 
East
5
Mid West
7
South
7
West
10
Age
 
Echo boomers (18-30)
10
Gen X (31-42)
9
Baby Boomers (43-61)
6
Matures (62+)
3
Race/Ethnicity
 
White
7
African-American
7
Hispanic
6
Education
 
High School or less
6
Some college
6
College graduate
11
Post graduate
11
Income/Household
 

    $34,999 or less

6

    $35,000 – $49,999

7

    $50,000 – $74,999

8

    $75,000 +

8
Political Philosophy
 
Conservative
7
Moderate
6
Liberal
11

TABLE 3

ORGANIC FOOD PURCHASING HAS BEEN GROWING

“When you compared to last year, would you say your purchases of organic food have…?”

 

Base:  Purchase Organic Food At Least Occasionally

 
 
Purchase Organic Food
%
INCREASE (NET)
32
Increased a great deal
6
Increased somewhat
26
Neither increased nor decreased
59
DECREASE (NET)
5
Decreased somewhat
2
Decreased a great deal
2
Not sure
4

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

TABLE 4

ORGANIC FOOD SEEN AS SAFER FOR ENVIRONMENT, HEALTHIER AND MORE EXPENSIVE

“Do you think the following statements are true or false for organic foods?”

 

Base:  All Adults

 
 
True
False
%
%
It is more expensive
95
5
It is grown without pesticides
84
16
It is safer for the environment
79
21
It is healthier
76
24
It tastes better
39
61

TABLE 5

HOW ORGANIC FOOD IS SEEN BY THOSE WHO DO AND DO NOT PURCHASE ORGANICS

“Do you think the following statements are true or false for organic foods?”

Those saying True

 

Base:  All Adults

 
 
Total
Purchase Organics
All /

Most Of Time

Occasionally/

Rarely

Never
Organic Food Is:
%
%
%
%
More expensive
95
88
98
94
Grown without pesticides
84
94
87
77
Safer for the environment
79
92
83
66
Healthier
76
98
81
60
Tastes better
39
86
42
21

TABLE 6

IS ORGANIC FOOD WORTH THE MONEY?

“Which of the following is closer to your opinion?”

 

Base:  All Adults

 
 

Total

Purchase Organics
All /

Most Of Time

Occasionally/

Rarely

Never
%
%
%
%
Organic food is much better for you and, even though it usually costs more, the extra expense is worth it to have better food.
36
91
40
11
Organic food is a waste of money as it is no better for you than conventional foods available in the supermarkets
29
1
23
51
Not sure
36
8
37
37

Methodology

This Harris Poll® was conducted online within the United States between September 11 and 18, 2007 among 2,392 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

J31984

Q610, 626, 630, 635

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is the 13th largest and fastest-growing market research firm in the world. The company provides innovative research, insights and strategic advice to help its clients make more confident decisions which lead to measurable and enduring improvements in performance. Harris Interactive is widely known for The Harris Poll, one of the longest running, independent opinion polls and for pioneering online market research methods. The company has built what it believes to be the world’s largest panel of survey respondents, the Harris Poll Online. Harris Interactive serves clients worldwide through its North American, European and Asian offices, and through a global network of independent market research firms. More information about Harris Interactive may be obtained at www.harrisinteractive.com.

To become a member of the Harris Poll Online and be invited to participate in online surveys, register at www.harrispollonline.com.