Foodies will buy what is durable despite inflation

  • Grocery store prices are up 10% from a year ago, but some dedicated foodies will still buy organic produce.
  • About four in 10 consumers who order takeout are willing to spend more on sustainable takeout options.
  • Shoppers expect organic food and are increasingly turning to food to improve their well-being.

For some shoppers, there’s no way to stop buying organic kale.

A 10% rise in grocery store prices over the past year could prevent some consumers from buying organic carrots or heirloom tomatoes grown without pesticides. But others, especially Gen Z and millennials concerned about their health and the environment, would continue to buy sustainably produced food for as long as they could, experts told Insider.

Surveys in the United States and abroad have indicated that some consumers continue to prioritize sustainable products. In the case of what we eat, this means foods perceived to be healthier for people, for producers, for animals or for the planet in general. But to get those benefits, consumers often have to hand over more cash at the till.

Some are willing: A survey by market research firm Euromonitor International showed that around half of consumers in dozens of countries were willing to pay more for sustainable packaged food despite higher costs of about 15% to those of conventional packaged foods.

This motivation also extends to take-away sales. A survey by Deliverect, a company that helps restaurants manage online ordering and delivery, found that 43% of respondents in various countries, including the US, UK and Spain, would pay more for take-out food they considered sustainable.

There are limits, of course. A survey in Britain and Germany found that just over half of shoppers check food labels for sustainable attributes. But price was the ultimate factor for around eight in 10 UK grocery shoppers and around seven in 10 German shoppers.

Yet for dedicated foodies lingering in the organic aisles, there may be no going back to ingredient labels that show additives most people can’t pronounce. Travis A. Smith, an associate professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, told Insider that these shoppers, especially younger ones, are used to paying higher prices for sustainably produced food. recent increases in grocery bills might not scare those who can afford it.

Smith said the rise of store brands selling organic produce over the past 10 to 15 years meant that more sustainably produced food was within reach for some budget-conscious shoppers.

If prices get too high, consumers are often savvy traders. Smith said Americans don’t tend to eat a lot of seafood, but demand in the United States has increased because prices haven’t risen as much as beef, for example. Now, he said, price hikes are causing some consumers to rethink how they might throw a party. “Instead of getting the chicken wings, they get the boiled shrimp or the fried shrimp,” he said.

Consumers don’t just want organic, they want wellness

Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for market research firm NPD Group, said that during the Great


Recession

from 2007 to 2009, the demand for organic products leveled off. “When money got tight, organic was one of the first casualties,” he said.

But Seifer has seen a shift since then in how some consumers study labels. “We find that it’s not really organic,” he said. “Purity is a table stake. It’s our entree. It’s more about what food or drink can do for me.”

These health-conscious consumers are looking for foods that promote gut health or heart health, Seifer said. “Right now, does it help me with immunity, or does it help me with anxiety?”

Seifer pointed to the uptick in sales of elderberry oil and CBD. He also cited growing buyer interest in manuka honey, produced in New Zealand and Australia, which is gaining attention for its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Seifer said the demand for sustainable foods is likely to continue not just because some shoppers seek better health, but also because young shoppers, in particular, consider the needs of the earth.

“Older generations grew up with things like plastic and thought that was fine. And the younger generations are like, ‘OK, we have to live our lives a little more sustainably because we can’t keep doing that and expect things to change. went smoothly.'”

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