Consumer perception of organic, natural overlaps

by Jeff Gelski
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BELLEVUE, WASH. — Significant overlap exists in the ways that consumers think about organic and natural, according to The Hartman Group’s recently published syndicated study “Beyond Natural & Organic 2010.”

The qualitative and quantitative research involved 1,679 people and was nationally representative.

The top six associations that consumers have with natural and organic were similar:
●absence of pesticides — 69% associated with organic and 62% with natural;
●absence of herbicides — 69% with organic and 59% with natural;
●absence of growth hormones — 68% with organic and 64% with natural;
●No artificial flavors/colors/preservatives — 66% with organic and 73% with natural;
●Absence of genetically modified foods — 63% with organic and 61% with natural;
●Absence of antibiotics — 63% with organic and 58% with natural.

According to the study, consumers perceive organic as what happens to food at its origin with examples of the farm, the plant and the animal. Consumers understand natural as describing what happens or does not happen to food after it leaves the origin in terms of production and processing.

Consumers generally look at the length of the ingredient list to identify if a product is natural. They understand natural products to have a relatively short ingredient line with recognizable ingredients, or items that they know or have in their own kitchens.

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