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Americans Are Confused About Organic Food But Are Confident That It Is Better
Jul 2, 2001

According to a new national survey released
today by Walnut Acres, America's original organic brand, Americans
are confused about the definition of organic food, but they
are quite confident that organic foods and beverages are better
for them and their family. This provocative insight is just
one of the key findings from the "Walnut Acres Certified
Future" study which provides a thorough look
at the recent boom in organic foods and the simultaneous rise
in consumer concerns about food safety.

Seventy-Five Percent Think "All-Natural"
and "Organic" Are Synonymous

The study, conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide, Inc.,
reveals that while nearly two in three Americans (63%) feel
organic foods and beverages are both better and more healthful
for them than the non-organic counterparts, three out of four
consumers (75%) are unable to differentiate between organic
foods and those which are labeled "all-natural." Additionally,
one in five (21%) erroneously thinks "organic" is
synonymous with "low-calorie."

Americans may have misconceptions about the specific difference
between organic foods and non-organic foods, but the majority
(57%) say they are at least somewhat knowledgeable about organic
foods and beverages. In fact, Americans are clear on several
important benefits:

  • Eighty-one percent know that for a food
    or beverage to be organic, the ingredients must be grown without
    use of added hormones, synthetic pesticides, or fertilizers.

  • Seventy-three percent know that
    organic ingredients are grown using environmentally friendly

  • Sixty-seven percent know that
    organic foods cannot contain preservatives.

Low Awareness of New Government Standards

Despite significant media coverage in December 2000, a majority
of Americans are unaware that new national standards exist for
organic labeling. The new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
organic standards program was enacted late last year, but still:

  • Six in 10 (62%) know little or nothing
    about the new standards;

  • Nearly half (47%) 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

Once informed of the new USDA rules, three
in four consumers (75%) say that national organic labeling gives
them added confidence in organic foods and beverages. One-third
(33%) say the standards make them significantly more confident
in organics.

According to the survey from Walnut Acres, makers of certified
soups and salsas, consumers want peace of mind. Given
a scenario in which a choice of two different foods is offered
- one with a "USDA organic" seal and one without - eight
in 10 (81%) say they would be more likely to buy the food with
the seal.

Concern for "Eating Healthie"
Contradicted by Eating Behavior

Americans also express a heightened concern for what they eat,
but that does not necessarily translate into eating what they

Six in 10 Americans (63%) describe themselves as "health-conscious
eaters," but more than half of those who say they are "health-conscious"
admit they do not always eat healthfully. Another 34% say they
eat whatever they want. And three percent confess to being fast-food

The majority of all Americans (57%) think of themselves as either
"true believers" or "dabblers" when it comes
to organic food. Not surprisingly, their concern about food safety
and healthfulness corresponds with their degree of commitment
to eating organic. Health-conscious eaters are more likely than
others to term themselves "true believers" in organics

Americans who are not concerned about food safety are more likely
to label themselves as skeptics or "non-believers" in
organics. However, even the majority of this group (60%) say the
new USDA standards will increase their confidence in organic foods.

Who Buys Organics?

According to the Walnut Acres survey, more than six out of every
10 adults (63%) report purchasing organic foods/beverages at least
sometimes when grocery shopping. Over one-half of these Americans
(56%) have been doing so for the past three years or longer. Both
long-time purchasers and those who are new to the organic market
agree that organic foods and beverages will be an increasing part
of their families' diets in the next year and beyond.

Acirca and Walnut Acres

All Walnut Acres soups and salsas meet the strict USDA's standards
to be labeled certified organic. Walnut Acres products
never contain synthetic preservatives, artificial sweeteners,
sulfites, extenders, stabilizers, MSG, artificial flavors or colorings.

Established in 1946, Walnut Acres is America's original organic
brand and is owned by Arlington, Va.-based Acirca, Inc., makers
of fine certified organic foods and beverages. The Acirca
name, derived from "A Circle of Life," underscores the
company's commitment to organic foods and to manage products that
give back to the environment.

Acirca is a privately held company owned collectively by company
employees and independent investors. Acirca was founded on June
1, 2000, to develop premier certified organic brands in
the rapidly expanding packaged organic food business. The company
is striving to bring convenience in packaged certified organic
foods to health conscious consumers.

The "Walnut Acres Certified Organic Future" study
was conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide via telephone, among a
nationally-representative sample of 1,000 adults, age 18 or older.
The sample was collected March 1 - March 5, 2001, using Random
Digit Dialing methodology.

Media Contacts:
Beth Corwin, PT&Co. (212) 229-0500
Michael Neuwirth, Acirca (914) 380-8020

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Did Walnut Acres used to make other products?
Yes. However, to focus on producing only certified organic foods and beverages and to make them more widely available, the...

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