What you need to know

The $18.9 billion natural and organic food and beverage (NOFB) market is one of the few bright spots in a generally dreary consumer economy. Strong opportunities for innovation and growth remain in this market, even as the food industry as a whole is struggling. This report examines how the NOFB market is growing and evolving, and identifies key trends that are likely to shape its future, including:

  • examining the growth of the market over the past three years, and what factors have contributed to this growth, as well as what will influence future growth

  • identifying market segments that show the most potential for growth in the coming three to four years, and how savvy brands can capitalize on that potential

  • looking at how natural and organic consumers have adapted to current economic conditions, and implications for NOFB producers

  • analyzing the most important drivers of growth and change in the NOFB landscape, including how consumers’ changing eating habits and increased concern about health and nutrition will shape the future market

  • identifying key players in the overall NOFB market in 10 leading segments, and examining how changing market conditions have impacted the leading companies and brands

  • tracking the hottest marketing trends and analyzing recent successful campaigns in both traditional and new media advertising for NOFB brands.


This report is a companion to Mintel’s Natural and Organic Food and Beverages—The Consumer—U.S., November 2011. Both of these reports build on the analysis presented in Mintel’s series of reports published in 2009:

  • Organic Food and Drink Retailing—U.S., November 2009

  • Natural Products Marketplace Review: Beverages—U.S., December 2009

  • Natural Products Marketplace Review: Refrigerated and Frozen Food—U.S., December 2009

  • Natural Products Marketplace Review: Shelf-stable Food—U.S., December 2009

For the purposes of this report, the NOFB market (sales) is defined by SPINS, utilizing its proprietary market and segment definitions, which include the following:

Figure 1: SPINS market definitions for natural and organic products, 2011
[graphic: image 1]
Source: SPINS

The terms “all natural” or “natural” don’t have industrywide definitions or meanings, nor are they regulated by the U.S. government (the way organic certification is). However, in general, “natural” and other like terms refer to food and beverages that are free of artificial ingredients including sweeteners, flavors, colors, and preservatives.

For the purposes of this report, organic products are defined as those that are certified organic with at least 70% organic ingredients, unless where noted in data Figures, and can therefore have front-of-package organic claims (e.g., “made with organic ingredients”). Products with 1-69% organic ingredients can’t have front-of-package organic claims, and as such many consumers may not realize the products contain organic ingredients at all. For this reason, Mintel has grouped these products as part of the natural food and beverage sales totals rather than the organic totals. While not tabulated, according to SPINS/Nielsen sales figures, for the 52-week period ending July 9, 2011, organic products with 1-69% organic ingredients represent roughly $540 million, or 3% of the total NOFB market.

Value figures throughout this report are at retail selling prices (rsp) excluding sales tax unless otherwise stated.

Data sources

Sales data

All sales data are from SPINS including natural and specialty food supermarkets (excludes Whole Foods Market), and FDMx outlets (based on sales data provided by SPINS, powered by Nielsen Scantrack™), unless as noted. SPINS data are based on three distinct channel measurements:

  • SPINSscan Natural: tracking sales of all UPC-coded products sold in the natural supermarket channel. Exclusive to SPINS, this channel represents full-format natural product supermarkets including the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) and the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association, small to midsized chains, and independent and cooperative stores across the continental U.S. SPINSscan natural data exclude Whole Foods Market, as well as any retailer brands (private label).

  • Specialty Gourmet Supermarket channel: Specialty and gourmet stores are full-format supermarkets with more than $2 million in annual sales, with SPINS-defined specialty items comprising at least 25% of their overall volume. These high-end, experiential retail stores bring high-quality products to the consumer seeking variety, and provide full-service, gourmet departments, featuring on-site bakeries, butchers, unique prepared foods, specialty cheeses, and an extensive wine selection. They have a strong focus on specialty, imported, natural, and organic items, are community-oriented “crossover stores” that are often locally owned and operated, and have knowledgeable, “foodie” store personnel.

  • SPINSscan Conventional: tracking sales of all UPC-coded products sold in FDM outlets. Powered by Nielsen Scantrack™, SPINSscan Conventional is a joint service delivered by SPINS, providing sales information on natural products moving through FDM channels (excluding Walmart). SPINS combines the strength and reputation of Nielsen data with the breadth and depth of SPINS attribute coding to provide the industry’s only comprehensive source of information on UPC-coded natural, organic, specialty/gourmet, and health and wellness positioned products selling through the conventional FDM channels in the U.S.

Advertising clips

All advertising creative provided by VMS, 1500 Broadway, New York, NY 10036. For more information or to order more ads, please contact the Accounts Services Manager, Ad Services, at 800.867.2002 or sales@vmsinfo.com.

VMS tracks competitive advertising content and activity in key industries across a broad spectrum of local and national media. VMS also captures and measures local and national editorial activity related to industries and brands to provide marketers with a unique view of the total media environment in which they compete.

Abbreviations and terms


The following abbreviations are used in this report.

ANDI Aggregate Nutrient Density Index
BFY Better for you
CEO Chief Executive Officer
CPG Consumer packaged goods or consumer packaged goods companies
CPI Consumer Price Index
CROPP The Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools
CSA Community Sponsored Agriculture farm
FDA Food and Drug Administration
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Generations are discussed within this report, and they are defined as:

World War II The generation born in 1932 or before. In 2011, members of this generation are aged 79 or older.
Swing Generation The generation born between 1933 and 1945. In 2011, members of the Swing Generation are between the ages of 66 and 78.
Baby Boomers The generation born between 1946 and 1964. In 2011, Baby Boomers are between the ages of 47 and 65.
Generation X The generation born between 1965 and 1976. In 2011, Generation Xers are between the ages of 35 and 46.
Millennials* The generation born between 1977 and 1994. In 2011, Millennials are between the ages of 17 and 34.
Matrix Generation** The generation born from 1995 to present. In 2011, Matrices are aged 16 or younger.

* also known as Generation Y or Echo Boomers

** previously known as Post-Millennials

In order to provide an inflation-adjusted price value for markets Mintel uses the CPI to deflate current prices. The CPI is defined as follows:

CPI The Consumer Price Index is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.

The CPI and its components are typically used to adjust other economic series for price changes and to translate these series into inflation-free dollars. Examples of series adjusted by the CPI include retail sales, hourly and weekly earnings, and components of the national income and product accounts. In addition, and in Mintel reports, the CPI is used as a deflator of the value of the consumer’s dollar to find its purchasing power. The purchasing power of the consumer’s dollar measures the change in the value to the consumer of goods and services that a dollar will buy at different dates.

The CPI is generally the best measure for adjusting payments to consumers when the intent is to allow consumers to purchase, at today’s prices, a market basket of goods and services equivalent to one that they could purchase in an earlier period. It’s also the best measure to use to translate retail sales into real or inflation-free dollars.

Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics definition.
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