Affluent Indians develop taste for organic food, says survey

Mumbai: Nearly two-thirds of Indian households in the high income group have reported a substantial increase in consumption of organic food products in the past five years, reveals a new survey released here Thursday.

There has been a major shift in consumer preferences for organic foods with purchases notching a hike of 95 percent in the past five years, the survey by Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India (Assocham) said.

The nationwide survey, ‘Rising Demand of Organic Products in Metropolitan Cities’, covered around 1,500 lead retailers selling organic and non-organic products.

The spending patterns indicated a threefold jump, or 95 percent in the past five years. The survey was carried out across the country, including Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Patna, Chandigarh, Indore, Kochi and Dehradun.

The highest spending pattern on organic foods was reported from Mumbai (65 percent), Delhi-NCR (61), Bangalore (58), Ahmedabad (55), Hyderabad (52), Chandigarh (51) and Indore (50).

“Organic farming was one of the fastest growing industries last year, thanks to higher disposable incomes, rising health consciousness levels which have hiked the demand for organic foods,” said Assocham secretary general D.S. Rawat.

Despite organic foods being 30-40 percent more expensive than traditional foods, parents were more concerned about their children’s health and a safe diet, the survey revealed.

The organic food options were led by vegetables (68 percent), fruits (52), fruit juices and pulses (51), foodgrains (50) and milk (45), besides packaged foods, tea and beverages.

Organic farming is still in a transition phase in India resulting in high costs, Rawat said. But as farmers continue with it, the costs are expected to reduce, making India one of the most important producers of organic foods.

In the wake of the bad publicity and alarms over poor diet, junk food and rising obesity levels, the boom in organic food sector provides welcome relief to the country’s food industry, Rawat pointed out.

The central government is also promoting organic crops, fruits and vegetables through various schemes like National Horticulture Mission, Horticulture Mission for North East & Himalayan States, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and various schemes of the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.

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