organic farmers in financing the cost of conversion; and $5 million in mandatory
funding, plus up to $5 million per year in appropriations, for USDA to collect and
distribute price reports for organic agricultural products, to conduct surveys and
publish reports relating to organic production, including consumer purchasing
patterns, and to provide statistical analysis on organic agricultural products. Collectively, these provisions create incredible potential for all realms of the organic
industry to grow and develop.
Also included is expanded funding for the National Organic Program to ensure appropriate enforcement and accreditation, as well as oversight of international production. By 2012, the authorized funding for this program will be $11
million. The membership of OTA, OTA’s board and staff and other organic organizations, particularly the Organic Farming Research Foundation, worked tirelessly
for the inclusion of these organic provisions.
Weaknesses: Consumer Confusion, Price Barrier, Limited Agricultural Data • Threats: Domestic Supply
ing decisions will be driven by issues
other than cost.
Weakness: Price Barrier
Opportunities to correct misinformation and educate consumers about
organic are likely to increase as well.
Because it will have greater access to
marketing-related resources, the industry will have an enhanced ability to be
proactive in its messaging strategies.
This will help to ensure that the information released about organic is
timely and accurate, and also help to
Organic agriculture is the pioneer of
the sustainability movement and now
with all things “green” being a big trend,
organic companies have the opportunity
to position themselves as eco-leaders on
all levels. Although environmental benefits have consistently been ranked among the lowest sources of motivation behind a consumer’s decision to purchase organic, Elizabeth Frey, vice
president of Frey Vineyards, believes consumers do, indeed, consider the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions.
“When we host wine tastings or tours, people always express interest in the environmental side of our business. They want to hear about the steps we are taking
to become more sustainable, which includes the steps we are taking to produce
wine organically.” Thus, Frey advocates for more work to be done to increase consumer awareness of the environmental benefits of organic. “Organic has come a
long way when it comes to educating consumers about the basics of organic. Now
we have the opportunity to go one step further and educate them about the environmental side of organic, which, from our experience, they are both interested
in and excited about.”
Don’t just stop with sustainable agriculture though. Being an environmental
leader means being as green as possible on all realms—from eco-friendly packaging to efforts to lower your company’s carbon footprint.
Weakness: Consumer Confusion • Threats: Competing Labels, Growth of Biotech
“With the explosion of new web technologies,
blogs and social media, the industry can now stimulate and
engage online conversation about organic…”
Price Gap Closing
Further opportunities for growth within the organic marketplace exist thanks
to the declining price gap between organic and non-organic products as measured by SPINS scans data. The decline in this gap can be attributed to three factors: 1) at present, non-organic food prices are rising relatively faster than their
organic equivalents due to heavier dependence on fossil fuels and historic ability
to rely on government subsidies to keep their prices artificially low; 2) organic
products are becoming widely available in large-scale retail channels and are consequently being offered at lower prices than in the past; and 3) lower-priced private label products are assuming a prominent role in the organic marketplace,
creating additional downward pressure on the existing organic/non-organic price
gap. Together, these factors create conditions under which consumers’ purchas-
create conditions under which consumers can make informed choices
about the items they purchase.
With the explosion of new web
technologies, blogs and social media,
the industry can now stimulate and engage online conversation about organic agriculture and products, either
by responding to misinformation or
proactively communicating about the
benefits of organic agriculture. In so
doing, the industry has the opportunity to elevate the emotional appeal of
organic. By presenting itself as not
only trustworthy, but also aligned with
the fundamental values associated with
providing the ‘best’ for families, organic can establish itself as the gold
standard of eco-labels and production
and processing systems and a cornerstone of responsible citizenship.
Threats: Opposing Voices, Biotech Growth
After hearing from many industry
stakeholders, several observations can
be made. We can build on our
strengths as an industry, our legal
standing and our verifiable label as
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