Food Engineering

American consumers confused over term "organic"

March 22, 2003
Americans aren't sure what organic foods and beverages are, but are quite sure that they are better for them than non-organic foods, according to a recent study that Roper Starch Worldwide, Inc. conducted for organic food maker Walnut Acres.

The study shows that while nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that organic foods are both better and more healthful for them than non-organic counterparts, 75 percent are unable to differentiate between organic and "all natural" foods. Further, some 21 percent of Americans believe that "organic" is synonymous with "low calorie."

Despite significant media coverage last year, a majority of Americans are also unaware that new national standards exist for organic labeling. Further, nearly half of those who don't buy organic foods every time they go grocery shopping say lack of standards is a reason they don't buy them more often.

However, the majority of Americans say they are at least somewhat knowledgeable about organic foods and beverages. For instance, 81 percent know that a food or beverage must be grown without use of added hormones, synthetic pesticides or fertilizers to be considered organic. And 67 percent know that organic foods cannot contain preservatives.