Last updated on October 7th, 2015 at 02:20 pm
Following a research study, which found that one in three shoppers do not make a clear distinction between organic and natural, the Organic & Natural Health Association will push for a new natural definition.
The association released the results of a research study conducted as a first step in its initiative to set the standard for the term “natural.”
The online research study of 1,005 U.S. consumers was conducted by Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) and found that one in three consumers do not make a quality distinction between the terms “natural” and “organic” and/or government regulation for products with such labels.
Other findings from the study confirmed more confusion in the marketplace with the term “natural.” Common misconceptions include the belief that most vitamins come from natural sources and that “natural” means no pesticides are used.
And while three-fourths of consumers perceive that organic foods must be at least 95 percent free from synthetic additives, nearly two-thirds of consumers expect the same standard from “natural” foods. Additionally, approximately half of the consumers surveyed believe that “natural” means the product is free of synthetic pesticides and are non GMO, attributes that are unique characteristics of organic products.
Karen Howard, CEO and executive director of Organic & Natural, said, “Our goal is to support increased access through consumer research and education and we are now embarking on the development of a program that will create a clear, meaningful definition for natural foods, followed by a definition for natural supplements.”
Howard says her group will require the definition of natural, like organic, to translate into 95 percent of all ingredients qualifying as such, with explicit definition of ingredients qualifying for the 5 percent exclusion.
Organic & Natural’s definition of “natural” will be comparable to the definition of “organic,” requiring that all natural labeled food be non GMO and not contain artificial preservatives, colors, flavoring or sweeteners, but in some cases there will be additional criteria beyond organic standards. For example, beef will be held to organic standards and must be grass fed and pastured to earn a natural designation. They also will promote quality standards for organic and natural by endorsing the ancillary certifications upon which consumers currently rely upon, including non-GMO and grass-fed beef.
Organic & Natural’s next step is to develop a voluntary regulatory compliance and certification program for the term “natural” to be released during the first half of 2016, in conjunction with a consumer education campaign supporting transparency of product purchases.