Sunday, April 29, 2012


Though organic foods are gaining popularity across the world, the real reason for a paradigm shift in the consumer perception of normal foods marketed to day may not be based on reasons which are being touted by the organic food industry. There appears to be a grouse on the part of the general food industry that consumer is being hijacked by the protagonists of organic foods through unsustainable claims like superior nutrition and other benefits. Here is a commentary on this perceived feelings of food industry in general about the situation prevailing to day in world markets.

As consumers we are increasingly disconnected from how our food is produced and supplied. New ideas and belief systems related to food are exploiting this disconnect and nowhere is this more true than organic food. In his new book, Organic Production and Food Quality: A Down to Earth Analysis Professor Robert Blair uses the latest scientific research to separate the truth from unproven beliefs. 'Organic Production and Food Quality' is the first comprehensive book on how organic production methods influence the standard of our foods, while comparing this to the perceptions of consumers and the demands of the global food industry. Based on the latest scientific findings and the results of food monitoring programs in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand Blair explores issues consumers raise about organic food including quality, safety and "healthfulness" compared to conventional food. "The internet is rife with unsubstantiated claims from the organic industry, and the media tends to have a negative impact on consumer perceptions about food," said Blair. "Thanks to food scares such as BSE or the controversy over GM foods more and more consumers began buying organic food. This resulted in a radical shift in food retailing, the expansion of the organic industry and the supply of organic foods at farmers' markets, supermarkets and specialty stores." In contrast the recent announcement by the UK Food Standards Agency that organic foods are nutritionally similar to conventional foods may reverse consumer perceptions, as will the higher cost of organic food when budgets are tight. Blair agrees with the conclusions of the UK FSA, as does an important sector of the European organic industry.

It has to be admitted that organic foods possibly can never be nutritionally superior except in a technical sense because the way the organic crops are raised is founded on the philosophy that they should be safer for the consumer as synthetic chemicals are rarely permitted for increasing production or protecting them. It is not that conventional agriculture cannot deploy the same techniques used by organic food farmers but the cost is bound to rise making the products much more costly. Let the organic food industry restrict its promotional efforts to focus on safety rather than nutrition. This is a fair way of clearing the confusion that prevails among consumers.


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