Organic marketing campaign to educate consumers

by Staff
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GREENFIELD, MASS. — The Organic Trade Association is launching a consumer marketing and public relations campaign that will reach more than 25 million consumers during 2009. This effort is to educate consumers about the benefits of organic, said Christine Bushway, who became executive director, O.T.A., in September.

"Never has there been as much evidence backing the benefits of organic to public and environmental health, as many organic farmers on the land, and as many educational programs preparing a new generation of organic farmers," she added. "But never in recent years has there been as high a level of consumer spending confusion and concern. The role of this campaign is to set the record straight and help consumers make the educated choice."

Ms. Bushway outlined the strategic marketing and public relations initiatives that are being implemented under the direction of organic marketing veteran Laura Batcha, marketing director, O.T.A.

Featured components of the plan include:

• Generate trial and purchase of organic products through the "Go Organic for Earth Day" retailers program, a new Go Organic for Back to School sales promotion and the successful bi-annual Taste for Life special magazine issues.

• Build organic's cachet among consumers and get them active in the organic community by rolling out a fully-integrated advertising campaign for organic, re-launching the O.T.A.'s consumer website and e-newsletter The O'Mama Report for greater mainstream appeal and sponsoring consumer events ranging from intimate in-home consumer parties to large-scale demonstration events.

• Spearhead major on-line presence of organic through proactive use of web 2.0 tools to correct inaccuracies and proactively communicate about organic. Tools include: "Organic on the Green: A Blog to feed the organic revolution in campus dining"; a bi-monthly Blogwatch tracking organic coverage; O.T.A. Blog, to provide an organic perspective; and upgraded Member Forum technology.

• Deliver powerful information tools to O.T.A. members and increase their use, especially the highly regarded Manufacturers Market Survey, and launch the first-ever Organic Input Almanac to quantify and communicate environmental benefits of organic.

Organic meat sales have grown dramatically in recent years, an O.T.A. spokesperson told MEATPOULTRY.COM. "In 2005, organic meat was $256 million," she said. "It grew 55% to become $330 million in 2006. It grew 29% for a projected $400 million in 2007."

According to the O.T.A.’s 2007 Manufacturer Survey, total U.S. organic sales, including food and nonfood products, were $17.7 billion in 2006, up 21% from 2005. They are estimated to have reached $21.2 billion in 2007, and are projected to surpass $25 billion in 2008.

"The ’07 survey says the growth of organic meat was 29%, one of the fastest-growing food categories in organic," she said.

Organic foods are increasingly sold in mass-market grocery stores, which represent the largest single distribution channel, accounting for 38% of organic food sales in 2006, the Manufacturer Survey stated. Large natural food chains, along with small natural food chains or independent natural groceries and health food stores, represented about 44% of organic food sales. About 2% of organic food is sold through farmer’s markets.

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