By Rieva Lessonsky

We’ve talked about the organic trend before, discussing the growing popularity of organic food, beverages and other products with the American consumer.

However, new research from Mintel shows those consumers are more confused than convinced about the benefits of organics. What’s worse is lots of people think the organic label is “nothing more than an excuse to sell products at a premium.”

Organic products’ biggest selling point, says Mintel, is the “perception organic products are healthier.” In fact, that’s the reason 72 percent of organic purchasers give for buying organic.

But 38 percent of consumers think the word “organic” on a label means nothing, Mintel reports, and more than half think organic manufacturers are charging premium prices. Only 29 percent of consumers know organic products are “highly regulated,” and that in order to be labeled organic a product has to pass stringent requirements set by the United States Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.).

While the desire for health has led to increased sales of organic products, Mintel’s research says, misperceptions about product labeling mean actual consumer penetration has plateaued.

Gen X is particularly skeptical about labeling, which is a problem because they’re big purchasers of food products. Fifty-one percent of Gen Xers think organic labels mean inflated prices; only 39 percent believe products labeled organic actually are organic.

If you want your organic products to appeal to more than Millennials (about half of whom buy organic foods and beverages, compared to 33 percent of consumers overall) or are planning get into the industry, Billy Roberts, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, suggests you need to give consumers a “clear reason” to buy organic products. That could be as simple, he says, as offering them lower-cost organic options and striving for transparency.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+   and