Organic and Local On the Rise at Grocers Nationwide. Energy Efficiency, Too

supermarket photo
Image: Benjamin Krause via flickr

Times are tough right now, but that isn't stopping the grocery industry, which like other industries is seeing pretty slow growth, from increasing the presence of organic and local items on shelves. The organic industry grew about 10 percent to nearly $29 billion last year, motivating 66.2 percent of retailers to add natural and organic items to their shelves, according to GreenBiz.The data comes from a Food Marketing Institute report, "The Food Retailing Industry Speaks 2011."

A few specifics from GreenBiz:

Most of that growth was in the West and Northeast, which saw organic sales growth of 80 percent and 72.2 percent, respectively. In the Midwest, 19 percent of retailers reported organic sales declines.

Locally sourced food, on the other hand, is popular with consumers across the board. More than 90 percent of consumers buy local food at least "occasionally," 9 percent do so "whenever possible" and 9 percent "never" do, according to FMI's consumer-focused report, "U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2011."

How people define local food is another question, and the focus of a much larger debate (with plenty of reason for doubt about foods that make the claim).

But the fact that so many people are interested in local food is the good news here. They just may also need to learn to do a little screening about what foods they accept as local.

Energy Efficiency
Interest from retailers in energy efficiency—because of worrisome energy costs—is also on the rise.

With energy costs among the top five of concerns for retailers right now, there's been consistent interest in green building practices for both new stores and remodeling. It's not always apparent, though, because green certifications are slowing down.

More on local and organic food:
There's No Such Thing as Local vs. Organic Food
15 Reasons to Eat Organic Food
Is "Locally Grown" the new greenwashing catch phrase?
Does Organic Food Need a Marketing Campaign?

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