The recovering economy appears to be enabling people to find more room in their budgets for the higher pricepoints associated with organic products.
The number of Americans reporting that they purchase organics increased from 39.8% to 41.8% between January 2011 and January 2012, according to an annual organic products survey from consumer products research and consulting firm TABS Group.
This was the first time in four years that the survey found growth in the number of people reporting that they buy organics.
People earning less than $30,000 a year and those with children purchased more organic products than higher earners and those without children.
TABS estimates that total organic product sales rose by approximately 15% to 20%.
The survey found an 11% increase in the number of product types purchased by a typical organic shopper. Organic staple categories seeing significant sales increases included beef (48%), ice cream (44%), hair care products (28%), vegetables (26%), milk (25%), eggs (21%) and chicken (17%).
People overwhelmingly (62% vs. 38%) reported buying their organic products in mainstream retail stores over natural food or specialty stores.
Younger people expressed greater preference for organic products. Nearly half (48%) of those under 40 reported usage in the past six months, compared with 34% of those 60 and older. Those under 30 bought on average 4.6 different organic products, compared with 2.9 different products purchased by those 60 and older.
"Younger consumers, with typically the least disposable income, show the greatest loyalty to organics,” noted TABS Group’s CEO, Kurt Jetta. “This likely will increase organics' sales and market share over time as their buying power grows and their preference is passed on to their children.”
The survey was conducted among a sample of 1,000 people representative of Americans ages 18 to 75.