How LOHAS can you go? Sales of organic processed food soar

How I hate being in a consumer category with its own acronym.

Brandweek reports on Nielsen data showing that despite the down economy, Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) consumers are happy to open their wallets for higher-priced organic cereal, jelly, pasta, produce, soup, and ready-to-serve prepared food. Sales of such organic foods hit $4.4 billion for the year ended April 2008. While most of that loot went to line the pockets of multinational parent companies like Kraft and General Mills (see professor Phil Howard's great charts of consolidation in the organic industry), it has also helped propel huge growth in little independent brands like Nature's Path Foods, sales of which Brandweek reports were up 30%.

While we here at the Ethicurean staunchly maintain that friends don't let friends eat too much processed food, truth is that not infrequently I open a can of soup and call it dinner, or unwrap an energy bar to snarf in the car on the way to an interview when I'm too hungry to think straight. But that can is always Amy's Organic Soup and the bar a Clif Bar, because all of their ingredients are actual food, their makers are still independently owned (click graphic, right, to see more such brands), and most importantly, they taste all right. Not as good as chili I make or Heidi Swanson's DIY power bars, but good enough.

Still, I am one LOHAS who won't be tempted by the next wave of organic packaged goods that Brandweek says "have yet to be exploited…organic noncarbonated drinks, baking mixes, frozen desserts and syrups… are all opportunities for CPG manufacturers and retailers seeking to capture LOHAS consumers wallet." Because crap is crap — and baking mixes are just silly.

4 Responsesto “How LOHAS can you go? Sales of organic processed food soar”

  1. VLamb says:

    Baking mixes are silly!

  2. Expat Chef says:

    Hmmm. Not much sustainable about all the extra packaging either! Did anyone mention to these folks that sustainable and large-scale centralized processing, with transport does not fit with the mental model of the "sustainable" consumer? Marketers. Amen to the baking mix as silly.

  3. mikejones says:

    I know you organic heads are probably all liberals so you will definitely love this! http://www.minimovie.com/film-128295-Welcome%20Back,%20Clinton

  4. Steves says:

    This kind of takes me back to the essay (speech?) on the organic twinkie, and in turn sort of resonates the larger issue of organics-as-method versus organics-as-lifestyle. As someone who's been on the fence regarding that topic, I do find it disconcerting that convenience still a key portion of the "marketing" of organics (although part of me also wonders if this is something the "movement" should take up, insofar as talking about lifestyle more actively (in terms of foodways, cooking as culture/practice, etc). Anyone, thoughts to this minor rambling?