In spite of the increasing popularity of Organic food these days, most of the people do not have a clear idea regarding the definition of organic food. In simple words, Organic foods are those foods that are produced, processed and packaged without using chemicals. They have been accepted due to their perceived health benefits over conventional food. The organic industry is growing rapidly and has caught the attention of farmers, manufacturers and, above all, consumers. Some of the popular organic food items include organic tea, organic coffee, organic wine, organic meat, organic beef, organic milk, organic honey, organic vegetables, organic fruits, organic rice, organic corn, organic herbs, organic essential oils, organic coconut oil and organic olive oil.
Organic foods protect from heart disease and cancer, as they contain Phenolic compounds. Organic food ensures high food quality, which other conventional foods cannot give. Organic food is natural and fresh, and thus, it is tasty. Many people prefer to grow organic food in their home gardens, because it costs about 20% more than the conventional food. Organic gardening uses organic seeds, organic fertilizers, compost, organic root stimulators, and organic pest control. It has been claimed by health experts that organic food is more nutritious. Some of the features that can be associated with organic food are quality, good taste, proper selection of crop varieties etc.
Advantages of Organic food
• Organically grown foods are natural, without any sprayed chemical. • Organically grown foods are nutritious and full of taste although they may not look as colorful and well presented as shop produce. • Organic foods put less burden on environment. Growing foods organically can protect the topsoil from erosion and is a great way of getting closer to nature.
Some people believe that organic food is only a “concept” popular in the developed countries. They think that when it comes to organic food, India only exports organic food and very little is consumed. However, this is not true.
Though 50% of the organic food production inindia is targeted towards exports, there are many who look towards organic food for domestic consumption.
Acnielsen, a leading market research firm, recently surveyed about 21,000 regular Internet users in 38 countries to find their preference for functional foods – foods that have additional health benefits. The survey revealed that India was among the top ten countries where health food, including organic food, was demanded by the consumers.
The most important reason for buying organic food was the concern for the health of children, with over 66 percent parents preferring organic food to non organic food. Though organic food is priced over 25 percent more than conventional food in India, many parents are willing to pay this higher premium due to the perceived health benefits of organic food.
The increase in organic food consumption in India is evident from the fact that many organic food stores are spurring up in India. Today (2006) every supermarket has an organic food store and every large city in India has numerous organic food stores and restaurants. This is a huge change considering that the first organic food store in Mumbai was started in 1997.
What do Indian organic food consumers prefer? The pattern of organic food consumption in India is much different than in the developed countries. In India, consumers prefer organic marmalade, organic strawberry, organic tea, organic honey, organic cashew butter and various organic flours.
However, the Indian organic food consumer needs education. There are many consumers who are unaware of the difference between natural and organic food. Many people purchase products labeled as Natural thinking that they are Organic. Further, consumers are not aware of the certification system.
Food purchasing behavior