Girl sitting on mother's lap while she is feeding her

The future of the organic industry is still unfolding, and many food and beverage businesses are eager to know what will matter to consumers in this new frontier. As we begin fielding our new study, Beyond Organic 2024: Expanding Distinctions in Food & Beverage, we’re grounding our thinking in what we already know about consumers’ organic needs.

According to Hartman Group’s Compass Eating and Drinking Occasions Database, 14% of all US adult occasions involve the specific need for organic products and ingredients. But what exactly are consumers looking for when considering their organic needs? By leveraging our proprietary occasion-based data, we can better understand key considerations within organic eating or drinking occasions.*

Prioritizing health across dayparts

While the need for organic is present throughout the day, this consideration peaks during mealtimes and over-indexes** in the early morning, when health and nutrition are often top priorities. Among total organic occasions, 24% involved a desire to do something healthy for oneself. Wanting foods and beverages that help with focus and physical restoration is also important. On the other end of the spectrum, the need for organic tends to under-index during the afternoon and after-dinner snack times, when sweets are more often consumed and health is less of a priority.

Connection matters

Organic occasions also tend to be more social in nature, over-indexing for taking place with both family and friends. Interestingly, there is a strong desire to impress others on these occasions, while connecting with others, enjoying good food with others, or celebrating are also highly important. Organic occasions are also more likely to take place outside of the home when compared to total occasions: primarily work, school or restaurants.

Expectations are high

When consumers are actively looking for organic foods and beverages, they are also more likely to experience other heightened needs. The absence of negatives, sustainability, health, quality, culinary assistance or engagement, and local or seasonal are all over-indexing need states. Other specific attributes like hydration, support for athletic performance and sustained energy are also more likely to be sought on organic occasions when compared to total food and beverage occasions.

Uncovering deeper insights

These insights provide a critical piece of the puzzle — but there’s much more to be understood in the changing world of organic. Beyond Organic 2024 will leverage new quantitative research and in-depth ethnographic immersions, to help answer questions like:

  • In the broader cultural context of how consumers make food and beverage choices, how has the meaning and relevance of organic evolved over time?
  • Which farming and production methods outside of organic speak to safety, health, and sustainability? Can non-organic brands leverage production attributes to compete with organic?
  • In what ways does purchasing of organic foods differ across the omnichannel retail and restaurant landscape?

Explore the full list of topics covered here, and connect with our team to learn how these insights can clarify opportunities and support your strategic objectives:

*Organic occasions are defined as any adult occasion in which there was a specific need for “organic” as part of the higher-level need of wanting simple, real ingredients

** All indexing notes are relative to total food and beverage occasions

Source: Hartman Group’s Compass Eating and Drinking Occasions Database, 2023