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Granola Girl Goes Mainstream

Despite the recession, natural and organic products have gained a firm hold in American households, becoming more mainstream as eating healthy becomes a priority.

Organic sales grew by a whopping 17.1% in 2008, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA) 2009 Organic Industry Survey, which predicts organic purchasing will continue to grow in 2009, albeit in single digit percentages. The point is that there is still growth potential here, and our job is to make it happen.

While some American households are still making their initial forays into organics, plenty natural and organic fans are committing a significant percentage of their weekly grocery budget to these healthy products. According to a recent MamboTrack survey, natural and organic consumers spend an average of $80-$100 per week on groceries (4 in 10 spending $100 or more), dedicating more than 30% of that spend to organic products.

These consumers aren’t the Granola Girls of the past. These folks are typically well educated (8 in 10 have a college education), and most (7 in 10) have household income at or above $50K, the U.S. household median. Forty percent have household incomes of more than $75K. These consumers are web savvy seeking out healthy product information online (67%) and subscribe to health and wellness e-newsletters (58%).

But just because they’re committed to healthy organic buying, doesn’t mean they aren’t cost-conscious. To make natural and organic shopping more affordable, consumers are taking a variety of actions, including using more grocery coupons (81%), shopping sales (73%) and cooking more meals at home (61%). One in two are being more selective buying organics (50%) and buying more store brand/private label organic products (49%) to stretch their grocery dollars.

These consumers are interested in buying more “green” products, but price is still a factor in this economy, too.

Consumers continue to put a priority on healthy organic eating during the recession but are expected to remain cost conscious even after the economy improves. Trends bode well for those natural and organic producers who weather this recession by delivering value-oriented products and promotions to consumers.