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Boom In Organic Foods And Beverages Fueled By Food Fears And By Desire For Healthier Living
Jul 2, 2001

Americans fear their food.

Unrelenting news of livestock afflicted with Mad Cow or foot-and-mouth
disease, taco shells made with genetically modified corn not
approved for human consumption, or dairy products laced with
antibiotic residue and bovine growth hormones, might be among
the reasons why eight in ten Americans say they are unsure of
how safe their food really is.

Organic Food Is a Major Trend
in New Millennium


In a new national survey from Walnut Acres, America's original
organic brand, 79% of consumers say they are concerned about
the safety of their food. The study, "Walnut Acres Certified
Organic
Future," shows that the majority of consumers
are concerned with bacterial contamination, use of growth hormones
and antibiotics, residues of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers,
irradiation and genetic modification.

When it comes to unknown ingredients hidden in non-organic food
and beverages, more than three-quarters (78%) of those polled
by Roper Starch Worldwide, Inc. agree they have no idea what
they might be eating. By contrast, seven in ten (71%) say that
the idea of organic food is appealing to them.

Concerns about food safety, coupled with the assurances of health
benefits and high quality of certified organic products,
are strengthening consumer interest in organic foods and:



  • Forty percent of Americans say organic
    food will be a bigger part of their diet within one year;

  • Fifty percent predict that organic
    food will be a bigger part of their diet within the next five
    years;

  • Six in 10 Americans (63%) buy
    organic foods and beverages at least sometimes;

  • Two-thirds (68%) say organics
    will be a major food trend in the new millennium.


"The explosion in popularity of organic
food is largely attributable to the barrage of headlines about
Mad Cow, growth hormones, foot-and-mouth disease, and other threats
to food safety," said Olivier Sonnois, Vice President of
Strategy and Development for Acirca, Inc., maker of Walnut Acres
certified organic soups and salsas.

Noting the high level of consumer concern (79%), Sonnois added:
"Certified organic foods and beverages provide American
consumers with peace of mind and an assurance of safety."

Women Are More Concerned Than Men

The Walnut Acres survey found that nearly two in three Americans
(63%) feel organic foods and beverages are both better and more
healthful for them than their non-organic counterparts. Americans
are more than just "concerned" about the safety of their food,
Sonnois noted. "There is a palpable fear of the unknown and
an increasing belief that what you can't see might hurt you."
And, concern about food safety cuts across every age, income,
and education demographic.

But when it comes to gender, women are more concerned. Forty-one
percent of women vs. 32% of men say they are very concerned about
the safety of today's foods.

Limited Availability May Be Inhibiting
Growth of Organic Market


Interestingly, while more than six in 10 (63%) say they buy organic
foods or beverages at least sometimes when they shop, lack of
availability at conventional supermarkets and grocery stores is
one reason many people who don't regularly buy organic don't buy
more. In fact, 44% say organic foods are not available where they
shop. Half of all people who rarely or never buy organics (51%),
cite lack of selection or variety of organic foods and beverages
as a reason they don't buy them more often.

"We are listening carefully to what Americans are saying.
They tell us they are concerned about the safety of their food,
and they intuitively believe that organic foods are better for
them," said Mark Koide, Vice President of Marketing of Acirca,
Inc., maker of Walnut Acres. "The quickly growing ranks of
concerned shoppers want to do the right thing for themselves and
their families by purchasing organic foods, however, they are
not finding what they want where they want it."

Another barrier to the purchase of organic foods and beverages
is the premium price they command. Nearly seven in ten (68%) consumers
who do not regularly buy organic products cite higher cost as
the reason.

Importantly, taste, which has always been a key driver of food
preferences, has not been a barrier to purchase for organic foods
today. In fact, nearly seven in ten (69%) believe organic foods
taste about the same or better than non-organic products.

Realizing the added value of organic foods, more than half of
Americans who are already purchasing organics (57%) say they'll
be incorporating more of them into their diets this year. And
five years from now, roughly six in ten expect to be consuming
more organic foods (67%).

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
bcorwin@ptanaka.com
or
Michael Neuwirth, Acirca (914) 380-8020
mneuwirth@acirca.com





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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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