Strategies given for marketers of organics
NEW BRUNSWICK (March 15, 2018) — Citing results from a survey of organic consumers in Mid-Atlantic states, conducted by Rutgers in the fall of 2016 and winter of 2017, Meredith Melendez, ag Extension agent in Mercer County, offered communication strategies for direct marketers of organic products during the annual NOFA- NJ Winter Conference.
In Mercer County — which includes well-to-do communities such as Princeton, Hopewell and Pennington — all chock-full of organic farms, Melendez deals on a weekly basis with organic growers and their concerns.
“I deal with a lot of growers that are selling directly to consumers or restaurants or farmers markets or farm stands,” she said, and cited results from last year’s study of organic consumers in Mid-Atlantic states.
“We did this survey because we wanted to see what was in the minds of organic consumers and see what motivated them to make purchases, what they wanted to buy, what were barriers to them in purchasing organic products, these kinds of issues,” she said, noting 1,100 organic consumers were surveyed for the project.
Respondents were residents of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware.
“We made sure all survey respondents were over 18 years old and the primary shopper for food and made sure they had purchased organic food in the past year,” she added.
“For me, coming from the education world, for years, the popular sentiment was that organic produce was going to go away, but consumer sales have shown that it’s really a growing market, and there’s more room for it to grow and significant amounts of money are being spent by consumers for organic products.”
Melendez pointed out that there are now an estimated 13,000 organic farms in the United States, and sales of organic milk and eggs were nearly $2 billion in 2015, while organic chickens racked up about a half-billion in sales “and those areas continue to grow, so by listening to their customers farmers are adding more options to what they’re producing at the farm.”
The top three in organic sales were apples, lettuce and grapes, the survey from 2016 showed, “and when we looked at what they were doing for employment, most of the consumers were employed by someone else.”
About 40 percent of survey respondents were from New York while 20 percent were from New Jersey.
“We tried to pull out their opinions on products and found out that 68 percent indicated they thought organic was of better quality, another concern was freshness and that ties in a bit more with locally grown and being closer to the farms that are producing organically.”
Now consumers in Mid-Atlantic States are seeing much larger quantities of organic products coming in from China and far-off Western states, she said.
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