What is Organic?
The USDA National Organic Standards Board defines organic agriculture as “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.” The idea behind the trend is that by using less, or eliminating, synthetic chemicals in the agricultural and processing stages of growing the produce, the farming will have less harmful impacts on the environment and the end-result will be healthier for consumers. There is much ambiguity as to the extent of the benefits of organic for people and the environment, but research has shown that eating organic foods can have definite health benefits, depending on the product. Many food businesses in the United States have increasingly adopted the “organic” lifestyle. There are special sites promoting the many “organic restaurants” that are cropping up. “Organic” is an attractive label, often mistakenly equated with “healthy.” Though organic foods, and therefore organic restaurants, are often more expensive than their nonorganic counterparts, healthy eating and sustainable food trends seem to be winning the battle during deliberations. Organic food has become so popular, in fact, that smart phone applications are being developed with the aim to test whether a food is organic! A more recent development in the organic food world is the increase in organic beverages available, and their popularity.
Organic beverages include organic coffee, wine, juices, teas, beer, milk, and sodas. Any organic restaurant can get in on this trend by ordering some organic drinks from the many organic beverages companies that exist, and juicing their own juices using their organic produce. With the growing popularity of the ideas of sustainable food and healthy eating, selling organic foods and organic beverages can be beneficial for any food business. Starbucks has taken to the trend by offering a line of organic coffees. The Whole Foods 365 line of products offers many organic options, including coffee, tea, milk, juice, etc., making it a good starting point for product research for businesses looking to incorporate organic beverages into their menu. The popularity of organic restaurants and organic food and beverage companies are a testimony to the potential success that can come from selling organic products.
What this Means for Food Businesses
8 in 10 parents in the US say they buy organic products. The organic beverages and food market is valued at over $31 billion, and appears to be slowly increasing. What does this mean for the average food business? Depending on your customer base, it may be worthwhile to begin incorporating organic products into the menu. Adding the title “organic” to some menu items can draw environmentally-conscious customers and those concerned with healthy eating. Buying organic produce is not a realistic option for most food businesses due to the higher prices and sometimes lower aesthetic quality. Organic beverages are an easy, effective option to add to the drinks menu. By purchasing a small quantity at first, a business can test out the products’ popularity with their customers.