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    Survey: Americans Consuming More Organics than Ever

    Consumers are drawn to the health benefits and freshness of organic foods.

    NEW YORK -- The number of Americans who have tried organic foods has jumped to 65 percent in 2005, compared to 54 percent in 2003 and 2004, and a quarter of 1,000 people responding to a survey said they're consuming organics more than they did a year ago, according to a report by Progressive Grocer , a sister publication of Convenience Store News .

    According to an annual survey released by Whole Foods in Austin, Texas, 10 percent of respondents said they consume organic foods several times per week, up from just seven percent last year. The 2005 Whole Foods Market Organic Trend Tracker also found that Americans are buying organic foods and beverages for a variety of reasons. The top three are: avoidance of pesticides (70.3 percent), freshness (68.3 percent), and health and nutrition (67.1 percent). More than half of all respondents agreed that organics are "better for my health" (52.8 percent) and better for the environment (52.4 percent).

    "Organic foods continue to move into the mainstream, and more Americans are choosing organic foods as part of a lifestyle aimed at wellness," said Margaret Wittenberg, vice president of communications and quality standards at Whole Foods and a former member of the USDA's National Organic Standards Board. "It's long been acknowledged that organic food is a better choice for the environment, and we applaud organizations like The Organic Center who are working to more clearly define how organics are better and more nutritious for our bodies through long-term and meaningful scientific studies."

    The survey unveiled significantly higher taste and quality ratings from Americans who regularly consume organic foods and beverages. Fresh fruits and vegetables remains overwhelmingly the most frequently purchased category of organic foods at 73 percent. Produce is followed by non-dairy beverages (32 percent), bread or baked goods (32 percent), dairy items (24.6 percent), packaged goods such as soup or pasta (22.2 percent), meat (22.2 percent), snack foods (22.1 percent), frozen foods (16.6 percent), prepared and ready-to-eat meals (12.2 percent), and baby food (3.2 percent).

    One quarter of respondents said they purchase organic foods at natural foods supermarkets, while 18 percent shop for organics at farmer's markets. The main barrier to purchasing continues to be price; almost three-quarters (74.6 percent) of respondents said the price of organic food and beverages is the main reason for not consuming more. Other reasons Americans are not consuming more organics, according to the survey, include: availability (46.1 percent) and loyalty to non-organic brands (36.7 percent).

    The survey of 1,000 Americans, now in its fourth year, was conducted by Equat!on Research in August 2005 and is representative of the U.S. adult population.

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