When was the last time you bought organic food?

Maybe you actively seek out organic products each week, or maybe you didn’t realize the can of black beans you grabbed at the store was organic until you got home.

Either way, you’d be among the 83 percent of consumers who interact with organic products in some manner, according to the “Organic and Beyond 2020” report from The Hartman Group. It highlights who buys organic, how they do it and their reasoning behind it. 

To understand organic consumers, The Hartman Group segmented them into four categories: Core, Inner Mid-level, Outer Mid-level and Periphery. About 30 percent of organic consumers are at the Core, meaning they’re the most knowledgeable and the most active purchasers.

Consumers in the Inner Mid-level (20 percent) and Outer Mid-level (30 percent) may aspire to being a Core organic consumer but do it with less consistency. They also may have fear of the unknown consequences of conventional food, or they’re taking a bandwagon approach to organic buying.

Consumers in the Periphery (13 percent) prioritize other concerns but occasionally incorporate organic products into their purchases. Another 17 percent are outside the world of organic, claiming to have not purchased an organic product in the last three months.

Increased access to organic products may also lead to increased purchases. The Hartman Group reported 29 percent of consumers buy organic products weekly, up from 28 percent in 2016 and 23 percent in 2010.

Generationally, Millennials (37 percent) are the most likely to buy organic products, followed by Generation X (30 percent) and Baby Boomers (19 percent).

As for why, The Hartman Group said free-from health and safety associations continue to be among the most compelling reasons. Nearly 40 percent of consumers consider buying organic to be safer for them and their families, while 38 percent say they do it to avoid pesticides and other chemicals.

A third of consumers seek out organic products to avoid antibiotics and growth hormones, while 32 percent perceive organic products to have a higher quality. Just over 30 percent of consumers buy organic to avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Though this research was conducted before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it illustrates continued consumer acceptance and demand for organic products. Producers, along with grocery stores and other retailers, have come a long way in making organic food available, further driving awareness and interest.

And while the COVID-19 pandemic may have pushed price and comfort to the top of the list of purchasing priorities, it’s doubtful concerns over health and wellness will ever dissipate. Organic products certainly have a role to play in helping concerned consumers achieve a healthy, balanced lifestyle.