A new study from the Organic Trade Association (OTA) reveals that 78% of U.S. families say they are choosing organic foods, up from 73% in 2009, while 4 in 10 families indicate they are buying more organic products than they were a year ago.

“In a time when the severity of the economy means making tough choices, it is extremely encouraging to see consumers vote with their values by including quality organic products in their shopping carts,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s executive director and CEO. The finding is one of many contained in OTA’s newly released 2011 U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes and Beliefs Study. Nearly half – 48% – of parents surveyed revealed that their strongest motivator for buying organic is their belief that organic products “are healthier for me and my children.” Other motivators for purchasing organic included concern over the effects of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics on children, and the desire to avoid highly processed or artificial ingredients. Nearly a decade after the federal rules for organic were implemented, 72% of parents are now familiar with the USDA Organic seal, up significantly from 65% in 2009. However, the study also found that 3 in 10 U.S. families are new entrants to the organic marketplace. This figure is consistent with prior years’ findings, and indicates a need for continued outreach and education on the verified benefits offered by organic agriculture and products.

The findings are in line with those in OTA’s 2011 Organic Industry Survey, which revealed that the U.S. organic industry grew at a rate of nearly 8% eight percent in 2010. Fueled by consumer choice and demand, the organic sector is one of the few components of the U.S. economy that continues to add jobs.
For the study, OTA, in partnership with KIWI Magazine, polled nearly 1,300 U.S. families about their attitudes and behaviors relating to organic foods. This is the third year the study has been conducted.