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OPN Connect Newsletter 336 · September 7, 2023

Is Organic Produce Only Affordable for Higher-Income Shoppers?


Who buys Mercedes Benz automobiles regardless of price? The answer is people who have the money and can afford it.

Likewise, who buys organic food regardless of higher prices? Again, the people who can afford it.

OPS 2024 Retailer Reg square

Have we ended up giving organic food—especially fresh organic produce—a reputation of being in the luxurious Mercedes pricing classification? Do consumers have the impression it is only for those with higher incomes?

Anything priced higher than its counterpart has the potential to confuse shoppers, and this includes organic produce.

Anybody who is in the produce business understands the higher costs associated with organic farming. Unfortunately, many non-organic shoppers do not, and they continue to resist the higher prices of organic produce and sidestep it. This can be fixed with more education, smarter marketing, and aggressive produce department merchandising strategies.

Vitalis February 2024

The produce industry needs to institute more consumer outreach in order to lure new customers to buy organics. We have to give them more attractive pricing through aggressive marketing and promotions.

Have we ended up giving organic food—especially fresh organic produce—a reputation of being in the luxurious Mercedes pricing classification? Do consumers have the impression it is only for those with higher incomes?

Here are three ways to promote lower organic produce prices at the retail stores:

  • Limit certain duplicates. Review your entire conventional line, and choose specific items that you feel can be stocked as exclusively organic—things like bunched kale, collards, mustard, turnip greens, beets, brussels sprouts, escarole, endive, and herbs. Doing this will also eliminate some shrink from having excessive inventory in both sections.
  • Advertise more items. If you include more organic items in your weekly ad program, you will send a message of lower prices to consumers and give the organic produce category a more affordable image. Try pricing both organic and conventional items the same in your ad program. Many produce directors are using that approach. It's more of an investment on the retailer's part, but it can capture the interest of non-organic shoppers and entice them to make organic purchases. Once they buy into it, they may try other organic items, and the sales will increase from those new customers. 

  • Merchandise smarter. Select some of the popular organic items that are more closely priced to their conventional counterparts, and consider placing them on an off-shelf endcap or auxiliary display to draw the attention of customers. These items don't necessarily need to be included in the weekly ad; they can simply be in-store promotions.
Fox Packaging January February 2024

All these strategies will help change consumers' impressions that the organic section is only affordable for elite, high-income shoppers.

Hiwassee February 2024
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