Organics here to stay, but category could use a cleanup

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With hundreds of millions spent on marketing but only a small percentage of total food sales, are organic foods a trend coming to an end? Seventy-five percent of readers think not, but they do concede the category hasn't been figured out yet.

"Organics are here to stay, but the labeling is a mess, and people are confused," said Pam Van Orden, president of Enlightened Brand. "The industry would be better off to launch an awareness campaign on behalf of all organic products," said Melissa Monson, account manager for Ovation Marketing.

Some said the benefits of organic food are sustaining its growth. "People are starting to realize how unhealthy we are as a society ... leading people to take better care of themselves," said Amie Cartwright, a brand-management intern for Pyro Brand Development. "If organic continues to mean no pesticides or genetic engineering, then the 'trend' will become the norm," said Shari Greer, account executive for Total Traffic Network.

But there were those who weren't so convinced. "While it will never die away, the organic brand is suffering greatly," said Timothy Crawford, technical director of drugs and cosmetics for Topco Sales. Marc Bodner, CEO of Bodner Consulting Group, blames major food marketers. "They took a very good product idea, put the organic label on anything they could, and raised the margins high enough to cover losses from nonorganic promotions. Can't build a business like that!"

What you say: 75%

No, organics are not a trend about to end, according to an emphatic 75% of respondents in an Ad Age poll. Only 25% indicated that organic foods might be on the downward slope.
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