Progressive Grocer Independent

AUG 2016

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30 | Progressive Grocer Independent | August 2016 Natural/Organic Departments O rganic sales are growing and have been increasing yearly by double digits since the 1990s. In 2015, Americans spent $43 billion on organic products, $4.2 billion more than the previous year — the largest-ever dollar increase in a single year, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Organic Trade Association (OTA). Organic currently makes up nearly 5 percent of total food sales. e growth rate in 2015 was 10.8 percent, which outpaced the 3.3 percent increase of the overall food market. "Officially, we're into the majority of American households purchasing some organic," said OTA CEO Laura Batcha at the recent Organic Produce Summit. According to SPINS data, average household penetration nation- wide is 75 percent. No doubt about it: Organic is now mainstream. Gone is the stereotype Natural/organic products are experiencing exponential sales growth; retailers can only gain as well. By Katie Martin that an organic shopper is an aging hippie, stuck in the '60s and '70s, shopping in health food stores. It has been replaced by the Millennial par- ent shopping in traditional supermar- kets. "e core customers are little bit more modern and diverse," affirms Katie Strohbeck, director of customer insights and growth solutions for Naperville, Ill.-based KeHE Dis- tributors. "It's more about a balanced lifestyle. ere's a huge blurring of lines when it comes to channels and where things are starting. I think any retailer could be successful focusing on the natural trends." Easy Entry Produce may be the easiest entry point for the market; in fact, organic produce sales topped $14 billion in 2015, with 51 percent of households purchas- ing organic produce. But organic has infiltrated the entire store. More than Growing Organically 75 percent of the product categories in a supermarket have organic offerings, according to OTA. "Most of the trends we see going on are due to the fact that consumers are becoming a lot more proactive in regards to their health and wellness," Strohbeck says. "We're being so much more proactive in regards to what we're putting in our bodies, whereas in the past, we were so reactive, going to doctors and figuring things out after the fact." Consumers are looking to food as medicine, and one trend Strohbeck is seeing in the market right now is a focus on trusting your gut. What this means is that consumers are looking for products that help them regulate the friendly bacteria in their digestive systems. ey're turning to fermented, probiotic-rich products like kimchi, re- frigerated pickles, marinated vegetables, beets and certain beverages.

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