Turning Points 2008: Organic Goes Flat
By Tom Ryan
Editor’s note: In what
we plan to make an annual end-of-year tradition, RetailWire has compiled
a list of the most significant retail industry “Turning Points” of
our news release…) What follows
is the second of a series of 12 discussions based on the list.
Picture this: A young
boy at the dining room table is pushing around the peas on his plate with
a fork and looking none too happy.
After watching this for
several minutes, his father says, “Eat your peas.”
The boy looks up and
says, “I don’t like these. I want the kind we used to get.”
The father, visibly upset,
throws down his napkin on the table and yells,
“You’ll eat your peas with pesticides and like them. When I was a boy
we never had organic peas. They put all sorts of stuff on our food and we
turned out alright.”
Okay, obviously joking
here, and conventional foods haven’t been scientifically proven to be any
less nutritional or safe than organics. But, it’s becoming increasingly
clear watching Whole Foods struggle and consumers reign in spending that
organic foods have become a casualty of the rotten economy. Sales of organics
are still on the climb but no longer at the pace of recent years.
Julie Hennessey, a consumer
from West Bloomfield, Mich., told The Associated Press that she
used to buy more organic fruits and vegetables. Now, she said, she buys
conventional (and cheaper) strawberries and spends a little more time washing
to NPD Group, the
number of people who buy organic products fell four percent in August of
this year compared to the same period the year before.
it isn’t all doom and gloom for organics. The Organic Trade Association
has forecast annual sales increases of 18 percent for organic foods through
Discuss Question: What
are the near-term prospects of organic foods at retail? What do you see
for the longer term? Is it possible, for example, that organics may become
“conventional” food in the future?