NEW DELHI: Rising awareness of healthy food apart from increase in disposable income has ensured that nearly 62% of households in the upper end segment prefer to have organic products.
There has been a major shift in for organic products, especially fruit and vegetables in the cities as about 62% of metropolitans buy organic, an increase of 95% in the last 5 years, according to a survey undertaken by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
The report on "Rising demand of Organic products in Metropolitan cities" is based on a survey done on 1,500 lead retailers selling non-organic and organic products. In the survey, about 1,000 retailers cited that health and environment grounds are the main reasons for purchasing organic products by customer. The spending pattern on organic products jumps three folds in the last 5 years, highlights the ASSOCHAM paper.
Major cities in which respondents were interviewed by ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation (ASDF) include Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Cochin, Chennai, Hyderabad, Indore, Patna, Pune, Chandigarh and Dehradun and it was observed that there has been a surprising rise in the demand of organic products in the Indian market.
Patterns of monthly spending give a good picture of consumer behaviour like Mumbai (65%) spend the most on organic products followed by Delhi-NCR (61%), Bangalore (58%), Ahemdabad (55%), Hyderabad (52%), Chandigarh (51%) and Indore (50%) etc.
D S Rawat, secretary general ASSOCHAM said, "organic farming is one of the fastest growing industries in the last year, thanks to higher disposable incomes, rising health consciousness level have increased demand for organic food.
The majority of the respondents said that "parents are more concerned about the health of their children and willing to spend more to ensure they get better and safer food, adding that organic products are 30% to 40% more expensive than usual food".
Among the various types of food categories offering organic options, vegetables (68%), fruits (52%), pulses (51%), food grains (50%), milk (45%) and fruit juices (51%) are the most regularly purchased items by Indian consumers, the ASSOCHAM said. It further added that packaged food, tea and beverages are amongst the other products for which Indians prefer the organic option, adds the survey.
Currently, most of the organic farmers in India are still in the transition phase and hence their costs are still high, according toASSOCHAM. As these farmers continue with organic farming, the production costs are expected to reduce, making India as one of the most important producers of organic food, adds Mr. Rawat.
Organic fruit and vegetables have the highest uptake by organic consumers. The average weekly expenditure on organic food is estimated at 50% of the weekly food budget, points out the survey.
With all the bad publicity and alarm generated by poor diet, junk food and rising levels ofobesity, the boom in the organic sector must provide most welcome relief for a food industry, adds Rawat.
The vast majority agreed with the statements: 'organic food is healthier to eat than conventionally grown food because it generally contains no pesticide residues' (98%); 'organic foods are better for the environment than conventionally grown foods (97%) 'the amounts of pesticide residues remaining on conventionally farmed produce are not likely to be harmful to health' (5%).
Around 62% said that health related concerns influenced their decision to consume organic foods and 65% said that scientific evidence had a moderate or strong influence on their beliefs about organic food.
The majority of people said they would eat more organic food if: it is 'more available in convenient locations'(74%); if it is 'less expensive (85%)'.
Other factors that influenced purchasing decisions included: where the food was grown (90.5%), the amount of processing (89.4%), the amount of packaging (87.5%), whether the food was in season (86.2%) and the distance it had travelled (79.1%).
The government is also promoting production of organic crops, fruits and vegetables etc. through various schemes viz National Horticulture Mission (NHM), Horticulture Mission for North East and Himalayan States (HMNEH), Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), National Project on Management of Soil Health and Fertility (NPMSHF), National Project on Organic Farming (NPOF), Network Project on Organic Farming under Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and various schemes of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).