Privatizing Organics

One expects consumers to turn to private-label goods in categories that are uninteresting at best. But the private-label phenomenon is increasingly making its presence felt in the market for organic foods, according to a new Mintel report, despite that category’s upscale overtones.

The research firm says its Global New Product Database “tracked over 540 new private-label organic foods in 2007, a massive increase from the 35 new products seen in 2003.” This wouldn’t matter much if consumers were resistant to private-label organics. But they’re not. Sixty percent of respondents to Mintel polling in July said the difference between brand-name and private-label organics “didn’t matter,” and that “they reached for ‘whatever is available’ when shopping.” Mintel concludes that private-label goods in this sector pose “an increasingly large threat to branded organic lines.”

Elsewhere on the organic front, polling last month by BIGresearch looked at the food categories that get most interest from consumers. Among respondents who identified themselves as “regular” shoppers for organic goods, 69 percent said they buy organic dairy products, topping the numbers who buy organic produce (67 percent) or breads (64 percent). The poll’s “occasional” organic shoppers were most likely to go for organic produce (49 percent), breads (27 percent) and cereals (25 percent).