October 15, 2007
Who buys organic produce?
This surprised me. African Americans spend more per capita on organic produce than do whites, and there is NO correlation between income and purchase of organic produce, according to a recent study published in Choices Magazine (an online peer-reviewed agricultural economics journal.
Organic Demand: A profile of consumers in the fresh produce market, by John Stevens-Garmon, Chung L. Huang, and Biing-Hwan Link, 22(2) Choices 109 (2007). Excerpt:
The lack of a clear positive association between organic expenditure and income level may have prompted Laurie Demeritt, President of the Hartman Group, to observe that "income is about the only thing that doesn't skew at all by user and nonuser. You get little skews in age, little skews in geography, little skews in education, but there's nothing at all for income, so we don't even look at that any more" (Fromartz, 2006). A recent survey conducted by the Food Marketing Institute (2004) showed that only 11% of organic shoppers polled bought organics at a natural-food supermarket, while 57% bought at mainstream grocery stores and discount stores. The fact that mainstream grocery stores are replacing the specialty food stores as the major outlets for organic foods could explain the seemingly fading relationship between organic expenditure and household income. It appears that income may no longer be a good predicator to profile organic consumers as the industry continues to grow and evolve into maturity.
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